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Full text of "Susan Drummond : a novel"






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LI E> R.AR.Y 

OF THL 

UN IVERSITY 

or ILLINOIS 

R43|s 

V. \ 



SUSAN DRUMMOND. 



SUSAN DRUMMOND 



Jl "gloocl. 



EY 



MES. J. H. EIDDELL, 



AUTHOK OF " THE SENIOR PARTNEn, " GEOEGE GEITH, 01 FEN COURT, ' ETC. 




IX THBEE VOLUMES. 
VOL. I. 



LO>'DON: 

RICHARD BENTLEY& SOX,NEW BURLINGTON STREET. 

^abiis^trs in ^rbinarg to ^er JJlaj^stg Ibe Quccit. 

1SS4. 



[The right of Translation and all other rights rescrval.'] 



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CONTENTS. 



CHAP. PAGR 

I. — Ax Off Day ix the Paek .... 1 

II. — Sir Geoffrey Chelstox .... 30 

III. — Gayre, Deloxe, Eyles, axd Gayre . . 64 

IV. — Mr. Gayre's Brother-ix-Law ... 88 

v. — A Possible Samaritax 117 

VI. — Eliza Jubbixs 138 

ML— ^ViLL He Propose ? 167 

VIII. — Father, Daughter, Uxcle . . . 197 

IX.— SusAX '2m 

X. — Mr. Sudlow is Advised for His Good . 248 

XI. — " Should Auld Acquaixtaxce be Forgot " . 267 

XII.— High Festival 233 



SUSAN DRUMMOND 







CHAPTEE I. 

AN OFF DAY IN THE PARK. 

OWX in the country the meadows 
gP were yellow with buttercups, the 
hawthorns were in full blossom ; in the 
Hertfordshire woods, sweet-scented white 
and purple violets literally carpeted the 
turf; beside the meandering streams of 
Surrey wild flowers were spreading and 
blooming ; but still the spring had been 
late and ungenial, the accustomed easterly 
winds had held a longer carnival than usual, 
vegetation, on the whole, was backward ; and 
as a natural consequence, Hyde Park, which 
seems specially sensitive to the influence of 

Vol i. 2 



2 ^^ USAN DR UMMOND. 

weather, could not, in the May of 1874, be 
considered looking its very best, as is some- 
times the case in that "merrie" month sacred 
to catarrh, rheumatism, and bronchitis. 

The winter of 1873-74 was what is 
generally called " singularly mild." It was 
singularly disagreeable, at all events : snow 
and frost held aloof, and bitter blasts and 
raw unwholesome mists and damps prevailed 
instead. That season will in one district of 
London be ever held memorable for a most 
dense and awful three days' fog, during 
which period a darkness like unto that of 
Egypt spread its pall over the whole of the 
East end. 

On New Years' night 1874, indeed, it 
seemed as though the Enghsh climate had 
determined to turn over a fresh and satis- 
factory leaf. Such a fine evening was surely 
never known before on any 1st of January; 
so magnificent a moon rarely, even in August, 
has shone on fields where the grain was ripe 



^V OFF DAY IX THE PARK. 3 

for the reaper's sickle ; but, like too many 
good resolutions made that day, the pro- 
mise of amendment led to no lasting im- 
provement, and winter dragged itself into 
the lap of spring; and the spring itself was 
late and dreary ; and in the May of that year 
Hyde Park was not looking its best. 

Hyde Park is a place which appears to 
greatest advantage when seen in full dress, 
when the trees are full of leaf and the flowers 
in full bloom, and the Drive full of carriages 
and the Eow full of riders, and the whole 
scene one of incessant motion, and constant 
change, and shimmering colour, and vary- 
ing effects. 

At some periods and under certain con- 
ditions it looks more mournful than a deso- 
late heath or a wide expanse of lonely moor- 
land. There is a sky under which its aspect 
is depressing in the extreme. Even in the 
" season " there are times when the very 

genius of desolation seems to be brooding 

2—2 



4 SUSAN DRUMMOND. 

over the grass, and the trees, and the mud- 
coloured Eow, and the Drive whence the last 
carriage has departed. 

It is then, plodding his lonely way home- 
ward, the whole show over, with the sun 
setting behind him, and night coming on 
apace, the pedestrian who is not rich or 
fashionable or prosperous feels a fine des- 
pair oppressing him, and is inclined, as a 
comforting exercise, to recite aloud six verses 
taken from the ninth chapter of Ecclesiastes. 

Judging from the face of a lady who was 
walking her horse along the Eow, she had 
compassed this state of mind little more 
than an hour after noon on that specially 
dull May day in the prosperous year of grace 
eighteen hundred and seventy-four, when 
my story opens. Tittlebat Titmouse himself 
could not have looked more dissatisfied. 
Her expression was gloomy as the aspect of 
the heavens, which seemed to betoken rain ; 
and her listless dejected attitude accentuated 



^V OFF DAY IN THE PARK. 

the desolation of the Park, which was al- 
most empty. 

A Drawing-room had drawn nearly all 
the rank and fashion in town off to St. 
James's ; and the few who at an earlier 
period of the day graced the Eow were 
now gone home for luncheon, leaving but 
one solitary rose to bloom, almost unseen, 
in a desert peopled apparently only by nurse- 
maids, children of tender years, and Life- 
guardsmen. 

And this was not a rose that liked to 
blush unseen. SoHtudes were not places 
she would have affected of her own free 
will. She preferred to be amongst her kind, 
more especially when that kind included a 
considerable number of male admirers. A 
quiet life would certainly not have been 
her choice, and yet for the twenty years 
she had lived in this world a quiet hfe 
chanced to be her portion. 

She was a very singular-looking girl to 



6 SUSAN DRUMMOND. 

be riding in the Park, apparently a total 
stranger. She seemed unknown, even by 
sight, to those who, had, earlier in the day 
passed and repassed her, and who now were 
gone away. Not a woman had spoken a 
word to her, not a man raised his hat. 
She had walked and cantered her horse 
round and round the Eow, evincing a curious 
tendency to " hug " the railings, instead of 
venturing out ii;to the middle of the ride. 
A gray-haired groom attended upon her, 
keeping closer to his mistress than is the 
usual habit of grooms ; and the discontent 
which clouded her face assumed on his the 
proportions of absolute ill-humour. 

Yet, if beauty count for anything, she 
was a lady most grooms would have felt 
proud to follow! 

As has been said, the Park was singu- 
larly empty. There were not any equipages 
worth noticing ; the few equestrians had 
gone away, either because they feared rain 



^.Y OFF DAY IN THE PARK. 7 

or were hungry; the usual loungers were 
elsewhere ; but still the young lady rode 
up and down, and round and round, with 
the dull steady persistence of a person on 
the treadmill. 

That she was not enjoying herself in the 
least might have been patent almost to a 
superficial observer ; the groom, who was 
enjoying himself even less, knew wherefore, 
and wondered why she did not end the 
ordeal and go home. 

Ko fairer face was seen in the row that 
season. One man, leaning upon the railings, 
decided no fairer face ever could have been 
seen anywhere. It was quite new to him. 
He had not beheld it before, and, while he 
stood watching her as she passed, he mar- 
velled more and more who she could be, 
what she was, and whence she came. He 
was a man of thirty, with closely-cut light- 
brown hair, and rather starved mou.stache. 
He had the look of a man about town ; 



8 S USAN DR UMMO^D. 

and, while evidently captivated by the girl's 
appearaace, he eyed her with a critical in- 
vestigating glance, which spoke more for 
the coolness of his head than the warmth 
of his heart. 

He seemed to have no appointment to 
keep, or anything particular to do, for he 
waited on and on, watching lady and groom 
with a puzzled expression that certainly did 
not betray the full extent of the admiration 
he felt. 

To him, over the grass, there came, with 
a quiet but not stealthy step, a man much 
his senior, who, saying, " Well, Sudlow, as 
usual, admiring rank and beauty," took up 
a position beside the person he so addressed. 

"I do not know much about the rank," 
answered Mr. Sudlow, " but the beauty is 
undeniable ; " and he fastened a bolder gaze 
than he had previously ventured upon the 
girl, who was passing at the moment. 

She saw this and coloured, and yet there 



AN OFF DAY IX THE PAHK. 9 

was a look in her eyes — a downcast, in- 
definable look — which told she did not feel 
wholly offended. 

The new-comer followed her progress 
thoughtfully. 

" She can't ride a bit," he remarked. 

Mr. Sudlow made no answer, but he 
turned his head and stared hard and in- 
quiringly at the speaker, who, though no 
question had been asked, replied, "I should 
say not," and then they both remained silent 
till after she passed again, which she did 
this time at the side of the Eow furthest 
from where they stood. 

"She is very beautiful," said Mr. Sudlow. 

"No doubt, to those who admire that 
sort of thing." 

" What sort of thing ? " asked the younger 
man. 

" If you can't see for yourself, it would 
be useless to try to explain," answered his 
friend, in a tone which had something an- 



lo SUSAy DRUMMOND. 

iioying in its very calmness ; " but the girl 
is good-looking — beautiful if you like." 

" I wonder who she is ? Did you never 
see her before ? " 

The other shook his head. 

" Never ; and it would not grieve me if 
I never saw her again. What have we 
here ? " he added, as two persons, riding 
very fast indeed, came at a hard trot 
down the road leading across the Serpen- 
tine. " You'll get yourselves into trouble, 
my friends, if you don't mind what you are 
about," he added. 

But apparently the pair knew very well 
what they were about, for, reining in their 
horses, they walked as quietly down the 
Eow as if they had been riding lambs 
instead of powerful hunters, that looked 
ridiculously out of place in Hyde Park, and 
carrying such hght weights. 

There was a lovely flavour of the country 
about the new-comers. One, a lady, was 



^Y OFF DAY AY THE PARK. ii 

mounted on the heavier of the animals — a 
roan with black legs, a grand chest and 
splendid action, well up to fifteen stone. 

For a moment Mr. Sudlow's acquaintance 
wondered why she rode the roan instead 
of the magnificent bay, upon which he fas- 
tened an appreciative gaze, but his wonder 
was not of long continuance. Just as the 
horses were passing the spot where they 
stood, the bay took umbrage at the sight 
of a stone roller which lay at the side of 
the Eow. If it had been a wild beast he 
could not have made more fuss about the 
matter ; he shied almost across to the op- 
posite . railings ; he got up on his hind legs, 
and reared as if he meant to fall right over 
on his back ; then he put down his fore 
legs and kicked, till Mr. Sudlow felt sure 
his rider's last hour was come; after that he 
tried to get his head and bolt ; and when 
he was balked of this intention he seemed 
for a minute to lift all his four feet off .the 



12 SUSAN BRUMMOND. 

ground at once, and dance upon nothing 
in the air. 

Meanwhile the gentleman sat the horse 
as if he had been part of him, and his 
companion looked on without evincing the 
slightest discomposure or anxiety. 

" By Jove ! " said the elder of the spec- 
tators under his breath, with an admiration 
which was as involuntary as it was genuine. 

" People shouldn't bring such brutes into 
the Park," observed Mr. Sudlow, who had 
turned quite white, and who would, indeed, 
have speedily placed himself beyond all risk 
of danger had not his dread of ridicule 
been greater even than his cowardice. 

Then the centaur patted his horse on the 
neck as if he had done something praise- 
worthy, and the bay and the roan proceeded 
peacefully on their way side by side. 

At the same moment, the girl who had 
been for so long a time exercising herself 
on the Hyde Park treadmill, and who was 



AN OFF DAY IN THE PARK. 13 

just then retracing her way from Albert 
Gate, shrank past the pair, putting all the 
width of the ride between them. 

No words could adequately describe the 
agony of terror into which the scene had 
thrown her. She had been coming on to 
meet the new-comers when the horse shied, 
and during his varied performances she sat 
with her eyes fastened on the rider, fright- 
ened almost to death, afraid to turn back, 
afraid the creature would rush madly upon 
her, afraid her own steed might next take 
alarm, suffering a thousand agonies in the 
space of about a minute, and for once in 
her life utterly unmindful of who might be 
looking at her, or how she looked. She 
had never even cast a glance at the roan, 
all her attention being concentrated on the 
bay, which she regarded in the light of a 
four-footed demon ; nor, indeed, did the 
lady on the roan particularly regard her : 
but as they passed the groom a sudden 



14 SUSAN DBUMMOND. 

light seemed to dawn upon her mind, and 
she looked back. 

" Why, that must be Lavender ! " she 
exclaimed; "and, yes — certainly — that is 
Margaret Chelston ; " and without more ado 
she wheeled her horse round, and, riding 
after the girl, said as she got close up to 
her, ''Who would have thought of our 
meeting here, Margaret ? " 

" That settles the matter," remarked Mr. 
Sudlow's companion to that gentleman ; and 
Mr. Sudlow somewhat shakily answered, 
" Yes." Evidently there had been a doubt 
of some sort in the minds of both men 
which was now laid at rest. 

" I wonder who she can be, Gayre ? " said 
Mr. Sudlow. " Are you sure j^ou have 
never seen her before?" 

" Quite sure ; and yet, oddly enough, her 
face seems familiar to me. Oh, look ! this 
is very funny." 

It was rather funny. The girl on the 



AN OFF DAY IN THE PARK. 15 

hunter had put up a warning hand to keep 
lier companion at a discreet distance, and 
then, placing the object of Mr. Sudlow's 
admiration in safety between herself and 
the railings, proceeded with her conversa- 
tion, whilst the man who was thus debarred 
from the delights of feminine society philo- 
sophically fell back on Lavender, to the 
manifest discomfort of a groom who " knew 
his place" and "had been accustomed to 
what was fitting," 

"It is long since I beheld so lovely a 
woman," observed Mr. Sudlow. 

"I never did," answered Mr. Gayre. 

" It is a pity you so seldom speak 
seriously." 

" I fail to see the particular application 
of your remark." 

"Why, it is not ten minutes since you 
said she might be very well for those who 
hked that sort of thing ; now you declare 
she is lovely." 



1 6 5 US AN DR UMMOND. 

"0, I was talking of the other one.' 

"Pooh!" exclaimed Mr. Sudlow. 

"There is no accounting for tastes," 
remarked Mr. Gayre. 

" So it seems," was the curt reply. 

" You need not be angry with me be- 
cause I have not fallen in love with your 
beauty," said the elder man. " She is a 
very nice thing in girls, indeed. I should 
say she is not long from the country; but 
she will soon know her way about town. 
I daresay, Sudlow, you may meet her at 
some party or other before you are much 
older." 

"Do you really think it likely?" 

"I do, indeed. I should not mind buy- 
ing that horse," he added, following the 
bay with the eyes of a person who under- 
stood horse-flesh. 

" What a curious seat the fellow has ! " 
observed Mr. Sudlow, trying to emulate his 
friend's critical manner. 



^V OFF DAY IN THE PARK. 17 

"Do you know the reason?" asked Mr. 
Gayre, cruelly throwing him at once. 
"No; do you?" retorted Mr. Sudlow. 
" Of course ; he has been accustomed to 
ride buck-jumpers." 

"And what the deuce are buck-jumpers?" 
" It is a pity your grandfather is not 
alive to tell you," observed Mr. Gayre; 
which was an extremely unkind cut, had 
Mr. Sudlow clearly understood the full 
meaning of his friend's remark. 

"What are you going to do with your- 
self this evening ?" asked Mr. Gayre after 
a pause, which Mr. Sudlow had devoted to 
the consideration of that conundrum con- 
cerning his grandfather. 

" I do not know — nothing." 
"Come and dine with me, then." 
The fashion of Mr. Sudlow's face in- 
stantly underwent a change. It lighted up 
with pleasure and surprise, and he an- 
swered heartily, 

Vol. i. 3 



1 8 5 US AN DB UMMOND. 

"I shall only be too glad. How very 
kind you are to me ! I can't imagine why 
you should be so kind." 

" Neither can I," was the answer. " You 
do not amuse and you do not instruct me. 
I have no daughter I want you to marry, 
and I have enough money of my own with- 
out trying to rob you of any of yours. 
Farewell, then, till eight. If in the mean 
time you discover why I am civil to you, 
tell me." 

Left thus to follow his own devices, Mr. 
Sudlow, after a moment's hesitation, turned 
and walked after the lady who had at- 
tracted his admiration. 

"I knew it," said Mr. Gayre, glancing 
back ; and then, with a cynical smile curl- 
ing his lip, he pursued his way, which 
happened to be Citj^ward. He was ac- 
counted a great man in the City ; he was 
a great man anywhere, indeed, if money 
and greatness can be considered synony- 



^.V OFF DAY IX THE PABK. 19 

moiis terms. If a stranger had asked 
any one of the many persons who touched 
hats to him, and waved hands at him, and 
made point of stopping to sa}^ " How d'ye 
do ? how are you ? "—as if their own 
existence depended upon hearing that the 
state of his health was satisfactory — who 
he was, the answer would have been, 

" That, sir, is ^Ir. Gayre, the banker — 
Gayre, Delone, Eyles, and Gayre, Lombard 
Street." 

Utterly ignorant of the wealth and 
wisdom they had passed by unheeded, the 
two young ladies rode slowly on, talking 
as they went. 

"Who in the world, Susan, is that 
person you are with ? " 

It was Miss Chelston who asked this 

question the moment the '* person " thus 

spoken of was relegated to the improving 

society of Mr. Lavender. 

" He is my cousin," answered Susan. 

3—2 



20 SUSAN DRUMMOND. 

"0, indeed! which of them?" 

"Mrs. Arbery's son. He has just come 
back from Australia." 

" Did he bring his steed with him ? " 

"No," said Susan, laughing; "that pretty- 
creature and this," stroking the roan as she 
spoke, " belong to a neighbour, who lets 
us exercise them." 

" Does he wish them exercised in the 
Eow ? " asked Miss Chelston ; " because if 
he does, I will never venture into it again." 

" No, it is too far for us," was the 
reply ; " but we should not do any harm 
to any one if we did come. Are you as 
timid about riding as you used to be ? " 

The beauty shrugged her shoulders. 

"I hate it," she answered. 

" Why do you ride, then ? " was the 
natural question. 

"Why do we do a hundred and fifty 
things every day of our lives we would 
rather not do ? " she retorted. " Susan, 



^.V OFF DAY IN THE PAHK. 21 

pray keep your horse a little further off. 
He has not a nice expression of face at 
all. He looks as if he would bite. I can't 
think what could induce you to mount 
such a monster." 

"He is tall," agreed the other indiffer- 
ently; "but a hand or two does not much 
signify." 

"And where have you been living since 
your uncle's death ? " said Miss Chelston, 
giving two young men who met them at 
the moment a full view of her face turned 
towards her companion, and her eyes raised 
with a bemtching expression of interest and 
sympathy. " You dear old thing, it was 
hard for you to have to leave the Hall." 

" It was not so hard for me to have 
to leave the Hall as for you to have to 
leave the Pleasaunce, Maggie," answered 
the other, with straightforward frankness 
and good sense. "I knew the day must 
come when it would be necessary for me 



22 SUSAN BRUMMOKL. 

to go; but you— 0, I felt so sorry for 
you!" 

"Yes; but, after all, I don't think things 
are much worse with us than ever . they 
were. Indeed, I think on the whole they 
are better. As for you, it is simply 
dreadful— to be brought up . as you were 
and then left without a sixpence. I call 
it disgraceful of your uncle." 

" Don't say anything against uncle, please, 
to me," said Susan, involuntarily tightening 
her rein, and so causing the roan to spring 
forward, which movement elicited a little 
scream from Miss Chelston ; " and I am 
not left without sixpence/' she added. "I 
have two thousand pounds saved from the 
wreck of my father's fortune. If uncle 
had known sooner that great India house 
was going to fail, he would have arranged 
to leave me something ; but as it was^ " 

" I know," interrupted Miss Chelston ; "he 
always: intended you to marry his son." 



^Y OFF BAY ly TEE PAHK. 23 

"Who came home with a wife and two 
children," added Susan. " Dear uncle — 
dear, kind uncle I " 

"That is all very well," said ^liss 
Chelston ; " but he might have left you 
some practical proof of his kindness. Even 
my father, who, as you know, is not 
remarkable for the interest he takes in the 
troubles of any one excepting himself, says 
it is a shame for you to be left out in the 
cold — a very, very shame ; " and Miss 
Chelston nodded her pretty head to italicise 
the naughty words she would not utter in 
their native force and integrity. 

" How is your father P " asked Susan ; 
then, without waiting for a reply, she 
added, " the first ride I ever had in my 
life was on his old horse. Wild Indian. Do 
you remember Wild Indian.^ It was 
my fourth birthday, and he took me all 
across the park and up the long beech 
avenue." 



24 S US AN DE UMMOND. 

" And he has told me often enough since 
you were not frightened, and that you 
ought to have been his daughter instead 
of me. I wish with all my heart you had 
been." 

They did not speak for a minute ; each 
apparently was busy with her own thoughts ; 
then Susan, looking at her old friend, said 
suddenly, and as if the fact had only just 
struck her, 

"You are prettier than ever, Maggie." 

"Do you think so?" answered Miss 
Chelston. 

"Yes, I always thought you were the 
most beautiful creature in the world ; but 
you are more beautiful now than you 
used to be. It is London, I suppose, and 
dress." 

"Dress improves every one," said the 
young lady, as a sort of general statement 
which she immediately applied to a parti- 
cular case by asking. 



^V OFF DAY IN THE PABK. 25 

"What could induce you to come out 
in that hat and habit?" 

"What is the matter with them?" 
asked the other. 

"Matter! Why, they must be ten years 
old!" 

" I daresay they are, or more ; they are 
not mine. I tore my own habit to rags 
almost in Ireland." 

" Have you been staying in Ireland ? " 

"Yes, with the Dudleys. By the way, 
I wrote to you from their place, but I 
suppose you never got my letter. The 
girls hunted, and of course I went with 
them." 

"Of course you did. Does Mrs. Arbery 
hunt ? " 

" Good gracious, no ! Why, she must 
be nearly sixty." 

" I didn't know. I only thought that 
might be her habit. Seriously, Susan, you 
must buy yourself something fit to wear." 



26 . SUSA^' DRUMMOKD. 

"It is not .worth while. . I shall not 
have the chance of riding even borrowed 
horses long." 

" Dear me ! what will you do ? " 

"Do without." ■ 

"And you so fond of galloping about 
the country." ; 

"A niaii may be very fond of champagne, 
and still find himself able to exist without 
it. Will Arbery says where he is, out in 
the Bush they drink nothing but tea." 

"Will Arbery is this latest cousin, I 
suppose ; any tenderness there ? " 
. "Not the slioiitest. He has come home 
for a wife, I may tell you, and that intended 
wife's name is not Susan Drummond." 

"Most unfortunate Susan! whose cousins 
won't marry her, and who, for all her 
knowledge of horseman — or rather, horse- 
womanship — has not, I see, yet learnt to 
hold her reins properly." 

"Yes, is not it stupid of me? I have 



^V OFF DAY IS THE PAEK. 27 

tried to break myself of that old trick ; 
l)ut, do you know, I do not feel as if I 
had the slightest power over my horse 
when I itake them the other way. . Where 
are you living now, Maggie?" 

" We have only a friend's house for a 
short time," was the reply. " When we are 
settled you must come and spend a long 
day." 

'M shall be dehghted," answered Miss 
Drummond. " You kno^v Mrs. Arbery's 
address, don't you ? " 

" Yes ; Enfield, is it not P " 

"Enfield Highwa}^" corrected the other. 

'^ Good heavens ! have you ridden all 
that distance to-day P " 

" It is not so very far," laughed Miss 
Drummond. 

"And don't you want to get back before 
night ? " 

" There are many hours before night," 
answered Susan. " Still we ought to be 



28 S US AN DB UMMOND. 

making our way home. Just let me 
introduce Will to you. Sultan is perfectly 
quiet, I assure you." 

^'Well, I don't know; however, if I am 
killed my death will He at your door. 
Your cousin won't come very near me, 
wiU he?" 

The introduction was effected without 
any mishap, Sultan comporting himself 
during the ceremony as if he had never 
stood on his hind legs or hfted his hind 
heels in his hfe. Then adieux were ex- 
changed, and Miss Drummond and her 
cousin, having announced their intention 
of returning home vid Camden-road, turned 
their horses' heads towards Stanhope Gate, 
and were soon out of sight. 

With a sigh of relief Miss Chelston 
pursued her way to the Marble Arch, 
thinking pensively as she rode slowly along 
that it was a pity Susan Drummond had 
not the slightest idea of making herself fit 



AN OFF DAY IN THE PARK. 29 

to appear in decent society, and wishing 
she felt as Httle afraid of horses as that 
young lady. 

" Who do you think the girl is we saw 
in the Park to-day?" Mr. Sudlow asked 
Mr. Gayre the same evening, as they sat 
tete-a-tete over their wine. 

" Which of them ? " returned the 
banker. 

"0, the one with the dark hair, and 
the dark-blue eyes, and the long lashes, 
and the damask-rose complexion." 

" Yes, go on ; who is she ? " 

" Miss Chelston, the only daughter of 
Sir Geoffrey Chelston, of the Pleasaunce, 
near Chelston." 

" Of Sir Geoffrey Chelston ! " repeated 
Mr. Gayre, setting down his claret. "God 
bless me ! " 

" Why, do you know him ? " 

"I used to know him," was the unex- 
pected reply. " He married my sister.'' 



CHAPTEE II. 



SIR GEOFFREY CHELSTON. 




IHEEE have been, since the institution 



of that order, all sorts of baronets — 
even good. To the latter class, however, Miss 
Chelston's father certainly did not belong. 
He said himself he " was a good deal better 
than some, and not nearly so bad as 
most ; " but, then, no one who was for- 
tunate enough to be acquainted with Sir 
Geoffrey attached much weight to any of 
his statements. Had this estimate of 
himseK been true — which it was not — the 
moral condition of the rest of the world 
must have been, indeed, regarded as 
lamentable in the extreme ; for Sir Geoffrey 
had, since his boyhood, been in the habit 



SIR GEOFF REY CHELSTOX. 31 

of doing those thino-s which he ought not 
to have done : whilst those ' thinsfs which 
he ouofht to have done he did not. 

Geoffrey is not a name which suggests a 
taste for the Turf, a fondness for the so- 
ciety of jockeys, blacklegs, and gamblers ; 
an almost inconceivable amount of ignorance, 
except on the subject of "sport," horses, 
games of chance and skill — an abundance 
of that disreputable lore which a man who 
has alwavs been knocking^ about the world's 
least desirable haunts cannot fail to accumu- 
late ; to say nothing concerning a distaste, 
which almost amounted to hatred, for the 
pursuits, trammels, and traditions of a de- 
cent and orderly life. 

There was no shame about the man, and 
there was no hope whatever of repentance 
— unless it might be a poor makeshift death- 
bed repentance, with a wasted life stretching 
behind, and an unknown eternity yawning 
in front. So long as a " chance remained 



32 8 US AN DB UMMOND. 

for him" — a chance, that is, of returning 
to the mud in which he loved to wallow — 
remorse was not likely to fasten its tooth 
upon him. His doings, his sayings, his sins, 
his shortcomings, were enough, in very truth, 
to have caused the scholarly ancestor from 
whom he inherited his name to rise from 
the grave, sold by this degenerate descen- 
dant to strangers, and return to see the 
ruin wrought by one man — one solitary 
man. 

There had been spendthrifts aforetime 
amongst the Chelstons, but no spendthrift 
like unto this. There had been sinners — 
wicked, godless, graceless sinners ; but either 
they died young, or, taking thought to 
their ways betimes, reformed and settled 
down ere age came upon them. There had 
been misers who grudged themselves food 
and the poor a farthing ; but it was left 
for Sir Geoffrey to spend freely on his own 
pleasures, and rob both rich and poor of 



SIB GEOFFREY CHELSTOX. 33 

that which of right belonged to them. His 
inherited title — won by a certain Ealph 
Chelston on a battle-field, where the fate of 
the day was changed by a mere handful 
of gallant soldiers — he dragged like a worth- 
less garment through the mire of the 
kennels ; while his name, one of the oldest 
in the kingdom, had become a mock and a 
byword amongst the vilest of women and 
the worst of men. 

He was not born to poverty like many 
another, who, with equally little satisfaction 
to himself or any other human being, has 
travelled the road to ruin. It was not 
necessity which first made him acquainted 
with strange bedfellows. No impulsive gene- 
rosity, no desire to serve a friend, no* 
boyish prodigality in the way of giving 
great entertainments, or wild desire to 
scatter gifts around, brought him into early 
contact with the Jews. If he had desired 
a father's help and counsel, he could, till 

Vol. i. 4 



34 SUSAN BRUMMOKD. 

he was nearly twenty-six, have obtained 
both from a parent wise as loving. So far 
as man could tell there was not an excuse 
for the bad mad race on which he entered. 
Some said he " cast back " to a certain 
Elizabeth Hodwins, who was raised by a 
former baronet from the condition of a 
fisherman's daughter to the rank of Lady 
Chelston ; but those best learned in the 
family lore shook their heads when they 
heard this theory ; for Elizabeth, possessing 
for her dower as much sense as beauty, 
had proved the saviour both of her hus- 
band and his fortunes. When she married 
him he was, with other gay gallants of his 
time, running a muck ; but she took her 
husband well in hand, and brought him out 
of the ordeal safe, though not unscathed. 
She wore her honours with a splendid meek- 
ness, winning respect rather than compelling 
it. She had, as one, who knew her well, 
chronicled, a " smile for the rich and a 



SIR GEOFFREY CHELSTON. 35 

tear for the poor ;" in all ways an excep- 
tional woman, who once, it was recorded, 
saved a child's life at the peril of her own. 
Except as regards mere brute courage, Sir 
Geoffrey did not own a trait in common 
with his brave and beautiful ancestress, but 
he had one good quality — physically he was 
no coward. 

People marvelled a man of such ancient 
lineage should play the pranks he did. 

" Why, don't you know," said a farmer 
once in the village tap-room, " ' the older 
the seed, the worse the crop.' " 

Sir Geoffrey was an awful crop for any 
house to have to gather home within its 
records. With him the race seemed des- 
tined to die out. Slightly varying the 
words of James V. of Scotland, it might 
have been said of the wealth of the Chel- 
stons that it had " come with a lassie" and 
that the name "would go with a lassie." 
The king who conferred the baronetage on 



4—2 



36 SUSAN DB UMMOND. 

Ealph the soldier added the hand of an 
heiress, who was nothing loth to wed the 
handsome hero. Since that time heiresses 
had come and gone, adding their fortunes 
to the Chelston coffers ; but now the coffers 
were all empty, and Sir Geoffrey owned 
no lands, or houses, or money, or son, or 
anything save one fair daughter and a 
pile of debts that never could be paid. 

Well might men wonder where the 
money had gone. There was nothing 
whatever to show for it. Sir Ealph had 
bought the estate, adding to his own 
small patrimony many a broad acre and 
goodly manor ; Sir Charles built the great 
rambling house, and laid out the quaint 
gardens, and planned the terraces from 
the west front to the river Chel ; Sir 
Eruce built the stables and kennels, and 
then, when he tired of dogs and horses, 
purchased the pictures and statues which 
made the Pleasaunce a show place. Then 



SIR GEOFFREY CHELSTON. 37 

there was the Sir Ealph who entertained 
royalty; and Sir Geoffrey, who spent his 
life in collecting blackletter and rare edi- 
tions, and who wrote a book full of 
useless learning, of which he printed but 
one hundred copies ; and then came the 
saintly Sir Francis, who, after a youth of 
sin, devoted his old age and his money 
to ecclesiastical purposes, rearing and en- 
dowing one of the loveliest churches in 
the whole of England ; then there was 
another Sir Charles, who performed great 
deeds at sea, and died an admiral ; and 
a Sir James, who was a great politician, 
and rose to be a foremost man in the 
councils of the nation ; and then there 
came Sir Cecil, with the scholarly tastes 
of his progenitor, Sir Geoffrey, which he 
entirely failed to bequeath to the son he 
named after that "lover of the best 
thoughts of older minds." 

Never, surely, was there such a man 



38 SUSAN DBUMMOND. 

for getting fortunes and wasting tliem as 
Sir Geoffrey the second. Before lie was 
seven-and-twenty he came into possession 
of the Pleasaunce, a large sum in ready 
money, pictures, plate, horses, carriages, 
everything necessary to the establishment 
of a gentleman of rank and position. 
When he was thirty his mother, who 
had been an heiress, died, and he got 
her money. Two years later he married 
Miss Gayre, dowered with a fortune of 
thirty thousand pounds, which was so 
settled, the lawyers declared, that a coach- 
and-four could not be driven through it. 
When matters came to be investigated, 
however, it was found that if a coach- 
and-four had not scattered her fortune. 
Sir Geoffrey had burrowed a way into 
the money. Four years afterwards his 
grandmother left him a satisfactory sum 
in ready cash, and this legacy was soon 
after followed by one from his only uncle. 



SIE GEOFFREY CHELSTON. 39 

But all these legacies were mere drops in 
the ocean ; Sir Geoffrey went through them 
at a hand-gallop ; and when he finally sank 
in a very rough sea of well-nigh unlimited 
liability, there was not a thing left to show 
for the money that had sifted through his 
hands but piles on piles of writs, and 
lawyers' letters in sufficient quantity to 
have papered the walls of the new " thieves ' 
kitchen " hard upon Temple Bar. 

Everything saleable was sold ; everything 
go able was gone — books, pictures, statues, 
horses, lands, furniture, stock, timber. If 
he had been able to dispose of his title, 
that would have followed in wake of his 
other possessions. In less than thirty years 
from the time of his father's death he had 
not a rood of his own ground left, not 
even the family burying-place ; not a roof 
to cover his head belonging to himself ; 
not a chair to sit down on, or a table 
to dine at ; not even old Chelston Plea- 



40 S US AN DR UMMOND. 

saunce — with its moss-covered avenue, and 
its rusty gates, and its park, kept latterly 
like a meadow, and its garden, where the 
roses were trailing across the paths — to go 
down to, when London life grew for him 
very hot indeed. 

To say that in any one respect, whether 
personally or mentally, Sir Geoffrey even 
faintly resembled a gentleman, would be to 
libel a class not accustomed to flattering 
similes. 

Of course when people heard he was a 
baronet, and had run through hundreds of 
thousands of pounds, they declared there 
was " something about him," that " blood 
would tell," and all the rest of it; but 
meeting him casually " knocking about," it 
never occurred to any human being to 
suspect he was other than some disreputable 
horsey individual who frequented racecourses 
and stables, who affected very tight trousers, 
who was a proficient in bad language, who 



SIB GEOFFREY CHELSTOX. 

wore his white hat a good deal on one side, 
who walked with his legs wider apart than 
is the custom of those who have not spent 
best part of their waking hours on horse- 
back, and to whom no respectable landlady 
in her senses would have let her first floor, 
even if furnished with the best references 
and offered a month's payment in advance. 

It had happened to Sir Geoffrey in his 
comparatively palmy days to be taken for 
what he looked like ; and as he never after- 
wards hesitated to tell the story himself, 
there can be no harm in repeating it here. 

One day wanting something in a hurry, 
he called at the shop of a saddler with 
whom he had never before had any deahngs, 
was shown what he required, and marvellous 
to relate, laid down a sovereign in pay- 
ment. 

The price of the article was one pound 
precisely, but the shopkeeper handed him 
back two shillings. 



42 S USAN DR UMMOND. 

''What's this for?" he asked. 

" 0, we always allow ten per cent, to 
grooms^' was the answer. 

" Do you ? " said Sir Geoffrey, coolly 
pocketing the two shillings. " I think I'll 
patronise you again." 

Which, indeed, he did to some purpose ; 
for when the final settlement of his bad 
debts came about, it so happened he 
owed that particular tradesman something 
like four hundred pounds. 

It is delightful to think of the charming 
manner in which favoured persons can incur 
debts they know they will never be able to 
discharge, and how easy it is for any man 
with a handle to his name to cozen the 
British tradesman. 

You and I, my friend, with the hmited 
income, might wait a long time for a loaf 
of bread unless the B.T. were well assured 
the wherewithal to pay for it would be duly 
and truly forthcoming. But a baronet, or 



SIB GEOFFREY CHELSTON. 43 

a knight, though he may not have a lucky 
penny to bless himself with, need not, even 
at this present incredulous period of the 
world's history, want any manner of earthly 
thing that is good. 

As regards Sir Geoffrey Chelston, he was 
one of those men out of whom no created 
being seems able to make money. He had 
no steward or lawyer or agent, or mistress 
or boon companion, who waxed fat while 
he grew lean. He was not systematically 
robbed or persistently cheated. His tenants 
were harassed, his solicitors worried, his 
friends victimised, his servants' wages left 
unpaid, and, as has been said, at the end 
of it all there was nothing to show for the 
princely estate mortgaged, for the fortunes 
gone, for the pictures and the books and 
the jewelry and the timber, any more than 
might have been the case had the whole 
been swallowed up bodily on one disastrous 
night in the Goodwin Sands. 



44 S US AN BR UMMOND. 

Nay more, misled by the Baronet's easy 
indifference, by his gross ignorance of 
matters with which most men are conversant, 
by his " devil-may-care " manner, by a certain 
fatalist warp of mind which had descended 
to him not from the fair Elizabeth, and by 
the impossibility of conceiving that it was 
absolutely necessary such wide estates and 
such an old title should "go down into the 
pit," many hopeful persons had tried whether 
"something could not be done." 

Joyfully Sir Geoffrey surrendered the helm 
to each in succession : the credulity of any 
fresh fool concerning the future, meant ready 
money to him in the present. That it also 
meant loss to the fool did not affect the 
Baronet in the least. 

" They speculated for a rise," he was wont 
to say laughingly, " and the stock fell — that 
was all." 

The stock did fall indeed ; there is no 
quotation known on 'Change that could 



SIB GEOFFBEY CHELSTON. 45 

adequately represent the fall in the Clielston 
stock as it appeared eventually to those who 
had felt quite sure they would be able to 
make a crood thincr out of it. 

If I had not to write this book about 
quite other people than Sir Geoffrey Chelston 
and his dupes, or rather the dupes of their 
own imagination and self-confidence, who, 
setting out to shear, came home shorn, an 
instructive history might be compiled for the 
benefit of sohcitors, bankers, money-lenders, 
and others, who were each and all repre- 
sented on the bankruptcy schedule when the 
Baronet went airily into Portugal Street with 
a rose in his buttonhole and a straw in his 
mouth to pass his examination. Liabilities 
scarcely to be recorded in figures : assets 
available for the benefit of the unsecured 
creditors — nil. 

Take one pleasing instance as an illustra- 
tion — but a poor illustration, it must be 
confessed, because it is sketched from a 



46 SUSAN BE UMMO ND. 

landscape over which the evening shadows 
were drawing rapidly down. 

A smart young lawyer, who thought all 
the wisdom of his predecessors folly, bought 
a practice in the market-town of Chelston, 
near the Pleasaunce. There he heard a 
great deal about Sir Geoffrey, his debts, his 
recklessness, his rent-roll, his mortgaged 
acres, his embarrassments, his one daughter, 
till he got nearly beside himself with the 
magnitude and originality of the design he 
had conceived. 

He possessed a few thousands ; he believed 
he could reckon on a few thousands more 
from his relations. He knew a man who 
was enormously rich and the father of an 
extremely plain daughter ; the " oracle " 
might be worked, he considered ; so with- 
out more to-do he set 'himself to work it. 

Sir Geoffrey was not difficult of approach 
— bless you, not he ! The young lawyer did 
not experience much trouble in boarding 



SIR GEOFFREY CHELSTON. 47 

the good old ship Chelston, in enticing the 
Baronet into his pretty Httle parlour, in 
introducing that worthy to his 'blue-eyed 
wife, in walking down the street to the 
Golden Stag, where Sir Geoffrey put up ; 
the talk between them being all the while 
as " pleasant and familiar as talk could 
be." 

After a short acquaintance, he began 
dexterously to feel his way. 

"Your affairs have been mismanaged, Sir 
Geoffrey, I am afraid," he suggested. 

"They have, damnably," agreed Sir Geof- 
frey, with agreeable frankness ; but he did 
not say by whom. 

" It seems to me that all they require is 
a Httle systematic arrangement," observed 
the adventurous young man. 

"That's all they ever wanted," answered 
Sir Geoffrey with another oath. 

"If a person were to devote time and 
energy to the matter, they could soon be 



48 SUSAN DBUMMONB. 

put in train," observed the lawyer ten- 
tatively. 

"They might," replied the Baronet; but 
it is only justice to add his tone was 
dubious. 

There was nothing more said then. They 
went, of course, into the Golden Stag, 
where Sir Geoffrey asked his new friend 
what he "would take;" and the wine 
which the landlord produced having been 
duly added to an already long score, the 
nominal owner of Chelston Pleasaunce got 
on his horse, and rode back to that place, 
leaving the lawyer well satisfied with the 
progress he had made. 

Not a fortnight elapsed before he was 
installed as Sir Geoffrey's legal adviser, of 
whom that gentleman had already about 
a hundred. He was told just as much as 
the Baronet chose to tell him ; he paid 
out a couple of small but very pressing 
■executions ; he wrote to several persons 



>S7Z? GEOFFREY CHELSTON. 



49 



who had issued writs ; and he began to 
find his affable cUent in " pocket money." 

That was Sir Geoffrey's hvely way of 
putting the obligation, and you may be 
sure the young lawyer laughed loud and 
long at the pleasantry. 

The Baronet wanted so much pocket- 
money, however — or, as he put the matter, 
" he had such a confoundedly big hole in 
his pocket " — that ere long his accommo- 
dating friend thought it might be better 
to expedite affairs a little ; so one day 
he went across to the Pleasaunce, where 
he found Sir Geoffrey seated in the library, 
the portrait of his scholarly ancestor sur- 
veying, from its frame above the mantel- 
piece, long lines of well-nigh empty book- 
shelves ; a small dog lying on the table, 
and a large one stretched on the hearth- 
rug ; brandy and soda-water on a tray 
beside him ; and a number of unopened 
letters littering the blotting pad. 

Vol. i 5 



50 SUSAN BRUMMOND. 

" All duns," said the Baronet, sweeping 
them carelessly on one side. "Well, and 
what has blown you over? Some good 
wind, I am sure : for I was just wonder- 
ing where I should get enough money to 
carry me to town." 

The lawyer took a seat, and commenced, 
with diplomatic caution, to unfold his plan. 

"You'd like to be rid of all this an- 
noyance, Sir Geoffrey?" 

It was thus he opened his first parallel. 

" Indeed, I should well like to be rid 
of it," answered the Baronet ; " and if any 

way out of the mess has occurred 

to you, I shall be only too glad to discuss 
it when I return from London." 

He had gone through too many inter- 
views of the same sort not to have learnt 
his best wisdom lay in deferring the final 
hour of explanation. Explanation, bitter 
experience had taught him, meant a sudden 
stop in the supplies. 



SIE GEOFFREY CHELSTON. 51 

" When do you suppose you will be 
back ? " asked the lawyer. 

" 0, in a few days ; a week at farthest," 
said Sir Geoffrey ; " and I want to start 
this afternoon, if I can anyhow raise 
funds." 

"I have not much money with me," 
observed the lawyer. 

" I can take your house on my way 
to the station," suggested his client. 

" Before I leave I should like just to 
ask you one question," ventured the other. 

" Ask away," said the Baronet, graciously. 

" Should you have any objection to re- 
settle the estate ? " 

Sir Geoffrey stared at him. 

" How the deuce could I do that," he 
asked, " when it's as good as out of my 
hands altogether ? " 

'' But if it were back in your hands ? " 

"That's quite another matter. I'd do 

anything in reason, I'm sure, to get out 

5—2 



UNivERsmr m wmn 



52 S US AN DB UMMOND. 

of this blank blanked continual hot water. 
I can't see, however, where the good of 
resettling would be now. As you know, 
or as, perhaps, you don't know, there is 
not a male left to come into the title 
after me ; and there was no remainder to 
females in the patent." 

The Baronet took great credit to him- 
self in that he never, in his later years, 
told his legal advisers a syllable he could 
not swear to. He did not count silence 
any falsehood. So long as they asked no 
questions he held is tongue; when they 
put a thing to him plainly, time had 
proved it was better to answer without 
equivocation. Then if they liked to go on 
deceiving themselves — which they generally 
did like — it was their own fault, not 
his. 

For which reason he told this latest 
adviser a fact " any fool," to quote Sir 
Geoffrey, " could find out for himself from 



SIE GEOFFEEY CHELSTOX 53 

the Eed Book in a minute." There was 
no heir to the title. 

" I am aware of that ; 0, I am quite 
aware of that,'' answered the other. 

" All I want is everything to be fair 
and above board," said the Baronet, with 
a genial frankness. " I don't know how 
you mean to help me ; but I take it for 
granted you have some project maturing 
in your head, and all I can assure you 
is, you won't find me stop the way if you 
are able to find an outlet. Only don't 
ask me to listen to any details now ; for 
it is of vital importance that I should get 
into town by the afternoon express." 

Sir Geofirey was detained so long in 
town by reason of what he called a 
" stroke of luck," that his new friend 
deemed it prudent to follow and "put 
matters in train." 

He found the Baronet, who had won 
something considerable on the Turf, in the 



54 S US AN BE UMMOND. 

highest spirits. His talk was of a certain 
outsider who had come in first; and it 
proved somewhat difficult to get him to 
listen to all the other had to say. 

Divested of verbiage, the lawyer's pro- 
position was this : 

He knew a gentleman who had made 
his money in trade — " never mind what 
trade," he said, hesitatingly. 

"That does not matter in the least," 
observed Sir Geofirey, in a truly liberal 
spirit. 

" If there were one thing this man adored 
beyond all other things, it was rank. He 
would, in a way of speaking," declared the 
lawyer, " part with all he possessed for a 
title." 

"Well, that's odd too," commented the 
Baronet. " I'd sell my title and " — but I need 
not particularise the other adjunct Sir Geoffrey 
offered to throw in as a mere makeweight — 
"for a few thousands, cash down." 



SIR GEOFFREY CHELSTON. 55 

" He has a daughter," went on the lawyer. 
" She is not handsome, certainly. I suppose, 
however, you would not allow that to influence 
you much." 

" I always did prefer a pretty woman to a 
plain one ; but what has she to do with all 
this ? Her good or bad looks can't signify to 
me." 

" I thought you would take a sensible view 
of the matter," observed the other. " JSTow, I 
believe — indeed, I know — a marriage might 
be arranged which would at once relieve you 
from your more pressing embarrassments, and 
induce my millionaire — " 

" Stop a minute," said the Baronet. " Do 
you mean a marriage with me?'' 

" I could not mean one with anybody else," 
was the reply. "You see no objection, I hope?" 

"There is only one objection; but I am 
afraid it is insurmountable, unless you are 
able to find a way out of the difficulty. We 
can't get rid of Lady Chelston." 



56 S US AN BE UMMOND. 

"What Lady Chelston?" 

" My wife." 

" But you have not got a wife." 

"Haven't I?" 

" She died fourteen years ago." 

"Did she?" 

"You — you haven't married again, Sir 
Geoffrey, have you ? " 

" No, faith ! One wife at a time is enough 
for any man." 

" But you were left a widower fourteen 
years ago, when you came back from abroad 
with your httle girl, dressed in deep mourn- 
ing ; and you said then, ' Poor Maggie has 
lost her mamma.' " 

" So she had. When we were on the Conti- 
nent my wife and I parted for ever. My 
daughter and I were in mourning, I remem- 
ber ; but it wasn't for Lady Chelston." 

" And do you mean to tell me Lady Chel- 
ston is still alive ? " 

" And likely to live, so far as I know." 



SIB GEOFFREY CHELSTON. 57 

"And has there never been anything to 
enable you to get a divorce ? " 

" My good fellow, do not ask such ridicu- 
lous questions." 

"And you are tied hand and foot matri- 
monially as well as pecuniarily ? " 

"Your statement of the position is pain- 
fully accurate." 

" And how am I to get back the money I 
have advanced you?" 

" If you advanced it in the expectation of 
being repaid on my marriage with your friend, 
who is, as you say, not handsome, I really 
have not an idea." 

" But I can't lose my money because you 
happen to have a wife living when every- 
body thought she was dead." 

" If you like to take your chance of hang- 
ing, you can get rid of her." 

Then the lawyer broke out. Sir Geoffrey 
himself could scarcely have indulged in worse 
language, in more futile and frantic profanity. 



58 SUSAN DRUMMOND. 

He would expose the Baronet. England 
should ring with an account of the transac- 
tion. He had been swindled ; he had been 
robbed ; he had been dealt with most treache- 
rously ; his pocket had been picked by a 
person who called himself a gentleman, but 
who was in reality no better than a common 
thief and swindler. 

"He goes on in this way because I won't 
commit bigamy," said Sir Geoffrey, addressing 
the imaginary jury the lawyer had summoned 
to sit in judgment on so heinous a criminal. 

"But surely in common honesty you will 
pay me ? " said this irate creditor. 

" Pay you ! how in the world am I to do 
that?" 

" Why, you have won a lot of money, you 
say." 

"0, but I want that for myself; besides, 
there is very little left. You talk about being 
deluded and disappointed. You have not 
been half so grossly deluded as I have been. 



SIR GEOFFREY CHELSTON. 59 

What is your disappointment compared to 
mine? I made sure you had hatched some 
scheme for cheating the Jews and giving me 
my own again, and now the whole thing 
•resolves itself into an impossible marriage. 
Gad, if I had been free I'd have got a rich 
wife for myself long ago ! You may be 
very sure I never should have employed a 
lawyer to look one out for me." 

Perhaps this matter hastened the end a 
Httle ; but, under any circumstances,' that end 
could not have been long deferred. There was 
a rush down to the Pleasaunce, a race as to 
which creditor should get his man into posses- 
sion first ; but they all got there too late. Sir 
Geoffrey had " taken the wind out of their 
sails " by begging a Jew to whom he owed a 
large sum of money to petition the court, and 
the court sent down a messenger, who was 
comfortably installed at the Pleasaunce when 
the representatives of the two chosen tribes of 
Israel, and various so-called Christians, who 



6o 8 US AN DE UMMOND. 

may have been, and very probably were, des- 
cended from the other ten sons of Jacob, put 
in an appearance there, only to be immediately 
turned out again. 

There was wailing and gnashing of teeth 
amongst bailiffs and sheriff's officers, and law- 
yers and creditors ; but the Baronet remained 
nobly serene. 

"It was bound to come," he explained to 
the friends who offered him their condolences. 
"I don't really know that I can be much 
worse off than I was ;" and seeing the resigned, 
not to say cheerful, manner in which Sir 
Geoffrey bore his misfortunes, people came to 
the conclusion there was something in the 
background, that he had prepared a feather 
bed to fall on, satisfied of which good manage- 
ment on the part of the Baronet, society re- 
frained from giving him as cold a shoulder as 
it might have done had that amiable abstrac- 
tion beheved he was an honest man. 

" I shall have to take a house in London," 



SIR GEOFFREY CBELSTOX. 6i 

he remarked, not because at the moraent he 
had the slightest intention of doing anything 
of the sort, but merely for the reason that he 
thought the statement sounded well ; " a fur- 
nished house, till I can pull myself together a 
little." 

Then upspake young Aloreby, who had 
been causing the large fortune left by his 
papa, a great colliery proprietor, deceased, to 
disappear like dust before the wind, till his 
mother, the widow Moreby, who, though some- 
times doubtful in her English, had a thorough 
knowledge of business, came to town, and, 
assuming the conduct of affairs, as she had a 
right to do, being not merely executrix, but 
part-owner of all the coal-pits whereout old 
Moreby had extracted his money, announced 
her intention of taking liim abroad away 
from " all his vicious companions ;" upspake 
this youth, who had not been blest with Sir 
Geoffrey's friendship for more than a few 
months, and said. 



62 S USAX BR UMMOXD. 

" My crib in the Eegent's Park would be the 
very thing for you, Chelston ;" and then there 
ensued a little chaff and various allusions to 
Mrs. Moreby and another very different sort 
of lady who had exercised the mind of the 
worthy widow in no slight degree, which need 
not be more particularly chronicled here ; 
and Sir Geoffrey made himself very agreeable 
while these themes were in progress, and 
any one might have imagined the last thing 
he had in his thoughts was of the house in 
question, or of taking in young Moreby. 

But somehow he just stepped into the 
"crib" as it stood — fully furnished — and, 
when he was fairly in residence, said quite 
calmly to his youthful friend, 

"I do not know how to thank you suffi- 
ciently for lending me your house. It 
shall be taken good care of, 1 promise 
you." 

Now young Moreby had never dreamt 
of lending Sir Geoffrey anything without 



SIB GEOFFREY CHELSTON. 



63 



being paid for it ; but he found the 
Baronet's understanding so dense on the 
subject, he was forced to yield the point 
with such grace as was possible under 
the circumstances. 



% J," 




CHAPTEE III. 

GAYRE, DELONE, EYLES, AND GAYRE. 

^HE Spirit of Improvement, taking a 
K walk about the middle of the year 
1857 down Lombard Street one day, bethought 
itself that the banking-house leased by 
Gayre and Co. from the gentleman whose 
fleshly tenement was temporarily occupied 
by the meddlesome sprite referred to, ought 
to be rebuilt. 

Nothing less to the taste of the old 
firm could readily have been suggested. 
Ancient ways seemed good in their sight ; 
spick and span new edifices savoured, ac- 
cording to their ideas, of shoddy com 
panics, limited liabihty, tricks of trade, 



GAYRE, BELONE, EYLES, AND GAYBE. 65 

bankruptcy, and various other matters hate- 
ful to honest men. 

More, to rebuild would cost much money, 
and Gayre and Co. did not like parting 
with even a Httle money, unless, like 
bread on the waters, it was sure to come 
back to them after many days with in- 
terest from date added. Eebuilding would 
inconvenience them, and that was even a 
more serious consideration than the pecu- 
niary outlay ; rebuilding was unprofitably 
laying down gold at some ridiculous rate 
per foot on the property of another man ; 
and the fuss and bustle, the hoarding, the 
scaffolding, the masons and labourers, the 
mess and lime and confusion, and utter 
demoralisation of the integrity of their dear 
old dirty den, woul prove annoying, not 
to say intolerable, to their clients, who 
were mostly slow-going people of title and 
old-fashioned City merchants, whose fathers 

and grandfathers had trusted their money 
Vol. i. e 



66 SUSAN BRUMMOXD. 

to Gayres' keeping, and never found cause 
to repent of the confidence reposed. 

If a bank, and all a bank's customers, 
dislike change, cleanliness, and convenience, 
it is evident that without great external 
pressure things are likely to remain in 
their original condition till the crack of 
doom ; but when this pressure did come 
in the shape of an expiring lease, and a 
ground landlord who would not be diverted 
from his purpose even by the offer of 
money, old Mr. Gayre, who was then 
alive, and Mr. Edwin Gayre, his son, set 
their wits together to try how little they 
could do in the way of making their 
bank look like any other bank of recent 
date as possible. 

It is only fair to say they succeeded in 
their endeavour. Even to the present 
hour Gayres' is a model of what a count- 
#ing-house ought not to be. An old build- 
ing at the back, which chanced to be 



GAYRE, DELONE, EYLES, AXD GAYRE. 67 

their own freehold, was left untouched, 
and in a portion of that edifice the Gayre 
of to-day gives audience to the few per- 
sons who ever ask to see him, and transacts 
the little business it is necessary for him 
to attend to. Gayres' have not gone on 
with the times ; but they feel no desire 
to do anything of the kind. 

Banks have come and banks have gone, 
but Gayres' still holds on the even tenor 
of its respectable way. Though the main 
part of the bank abutting on Lombard 
Street was, as has been stated, brand-new 
less than twenty -five years ago, it has 
managed somehow to acquire during that 
period quite a look of antiquity. For one . 
thing, it was built on the old lines, and 
kept rigidly free from any improvements of 
structure or originality of design. It is as 
square as the shape of the ground would 
permit ; it has steps up to the door, ap-» 

parently with the intention of checking 

6—2 



68 SUSAN BBUMMONB. 

the ardour of any stranger who might 
feel disposed to rush in and open an ac- 
count ; the exterior is utterly destitute of 
ornament, and the inside as plain as Dis- 
senting chapels used to be. It is badly 
lighted and not ventilated at all. The 
way to the strong room is encompassed 
by as many traps and perils as those 
which beset Christian on his road from 
the City of Destruction to the better land ; 
and there is a dark step down into Mr. 
Gayre's own especial sanctum which has 
nearly ended the earthly career of more 
than one intending client. 

Any one who by some rare piece of 
good fortune gets a cheque to present 
across Gayres' counter feels as the narrow 
half-door swings behind him that he has 
stepped out of Lombard Street and the 
modern days of hansom cabs, railways, 
and electric light, into the seventeenth 
century, and he half expects when he steps 



GAYBE, DELOKE, EYLES, AS'D GAYBE. 69 

out again to see the old signs which de- 
noted the goldsmiths' whereabouts in the 
days when Mr. Francis Child, the first 
regular banker, married Martha, only- 
daughter of Eobert Blanchard, citizen, and 
Hved with his wife, business, and twelve 
children in Fleet Street, where, to quote 
Pennant, " the shop still continues in a 
state of the highest respectability." 

The Gayres were goldsmiths also about 
the same period, and had been notable 
people in the City even before the time 
when their relation. Sir John Gayre, was 
Lord Mayor of London. Xo mushroom 
house this, eager to extend its credit by 
means of cut stone and ornamented pi- 
lasters, or to flaunt its wares in the face 
of the pubHc through plate-glass windows, 
or reflect the faces of dupes in French 
polished mahogany counters and brass 
knobs and rails. It was quite enough 
satisfaction for any man to know himself 



70 S US AN BR UMMOM). 

m the books of tlie firm, without looking 
upon his own distorted likeness in shining 
furniture and glittering lacquer. 

Gayres were by no means anxious to 
open accounts " on the usual terms ; " in- 
deed, their terms, according to modern 
ideas, were most unusual. They did not 
even care for the " best bills ; " upon the 
whole they preferred that bills of all sorts 
and descriptions should be negotiated else- 
where, and he would have been a rash 
man who had ventured to ask Gayres' 
manager to discount even the finest mer- 
cantile paper. 

Conservative in their ideas of trade, 
though, following civic traditions, perhaps 
somewhat independent and radical in poli- 
tics, Gajrres' notion of banking was emi- 
nently primitive. According to the tradi- 
tions of their house a banker was a man 
of substance and repute, who took care of 
money for his customers. Gayres professed 



GAYEE, BELOSE, EYLES, AXJJ GAYRE. 71 

to do little more than this. Like their 
predecessors the Lombards, they could, 
though rarely, be induced to accommodate 
a well-known customer ; but the whole 
transaction was fenced about with such 
forms and ceremonies, prefaced by such 
details, and requiring such an expenditure 
of time, legal advice, and thought, that 
" the business " was, as a rule, transferred 
to some house accustomed to more rough- 
and-ready methods of procedure. 

Time, to ]\Iessrs. Gayre, Delone, Eyles, 
and Gayre, might have represented eternity, 
to judge from the deliberation of their move- 
ments. To take, say, one hundred pounds 
in five notes over their old Spanish maho- 
gany counter occupied more time than the 
cashing of ten thousand might at Glyn's. 

But then Gayres' looked down on Glyn's, 
as it did on Child's. Gayres represented 
itself as being more respectable than any 
other banking-house in London. 



72 SUSAN DRUMMONB. 

" Nell Gwynne banked there, did she ? " 
said a Gayre, long and long anterior to 
the date at which this story opens ; " and 
Childs are proud of the fact, are they? I 
wouldn't have let the hussy set foot 
across our threshold." 

Which remark may give the key to 
Gayres' policy. Eespectable, decorous, sound ; 
if you had wound Gayres up at any 
minute in the twenty-four hours, enough 
would have been forthcoming to satisfy 
everybody and leave a balance. 

Yes, even in the year 1874, when the 
Gayre in whose veins flowed the blood of 
all the Gayres since 1647, to say nothing of 
many previous generations, laid down his 
claret, and astonished his guest by de- 
claring his sister had married Sir Geoffrey 
Chelston. 

As has been said, banks had come and 
banks had gone, and, it may be added 
banks were going; but GajTes' knew no 



GAYBE, DELOXE, EYLES, ASD GAYRE. 73 

anxiety as regarded its financial position. 
The heads of the firm had not appropriated 
their customers' title-deeds — a favourite form 
of latter-day banking dishonesty; the se- 
curity on which their good money lay at 
interest they had never found need to 
mortgage. All their business lives for a 
couple of centuries, at least, they had been 
quiet, honest, orderly people, living well 
within their income, owing no man more 
than they could conveniently pay, eschew- 
ing speculation, holding aloof from the rail- 
way and other manias, that beggared and 
crippled so many large houses in the years 
preceding the gTeat show in Hyde Park. 

And yet Gayres' was not what it had 
once been. It could not have counted 
down guineas with some of the great banks, 
as it might formerly. The principals had 
not gone on with the world ; and so the 
world, which latterly has got into the habit 
of travelling very fast indeed, made no 



74 S US AX DB UMMOXD. 

scruple about leaving Gayres' behind. 
Some even of their titled customers, find- 
inor the old bank allowed them no interest 
on balances, were contracting a nasty habit 
of transferring two or three thousand pounds 
at a time to the London and Westminster, 
or Xational Provincial, or any other great 
bank which had the knack of being more 
considerate. They kept their accounts 
still at the " old shop," which once hung 
out a tortoise for its sign ; but even 
country squires and Tory noblemen were 
learnincr a few thino-s their ancestors chanced 
to be ignorant of, and seemed as anxious 
and greedy to make a " tenner " as a lad 
to toss for tarts. 

City wags occasionally suggested it 
would be the most fitting of all fitting 
things if Gayres' were to hunt up the old 
tortoise out of their cellars, and hang it in 
the sun. Scofiers declared " Gayres' was 
the slowest coach going in the city." They 



GAYBE, DELOyE, EYLES, ASL GAYBE. 75 

wondered why, if Gavres' would not amal- 
gamate with a bank that •' had some life 
in it," Gayres did not shut up. and cut the 
City altogether ? 

"And there is only this one fellow left, 
and he not married," was the remark 
generally made. "Why, he must be as 
rich as a Jew ; " which did not happen to 
be the case. Mr. Gayre was well off, very 
well off, but he could not be called a 
millionaire for all that. 

Nicholas Gayre came of a stock more 
famous for saving money than making it. 
To pitch thousands about, to see gold flung 
recklessly into this venture and that, would 
have seemed criminal in the eyes of men 
who esteemed riches a possession to be 
desired, more especially when accompanied 
by a good name. Thus, if they had lost 
little or nothing, they had not made 
fortunes in a day, like their neighbours up 
and down the street. They took few 



76 SUSAN BR UMMONB. 

measures to extend their connection ; and 
so it occasionally happened that, as the 
heads of a family died off, the younger 
branches carried their accounts elsewhere. 

Banking, in a word, had changed its 
character, and as Gayres' refused to veer 
round at the bidding of the banking world 
the old house came gradually to be pushed 
up into a quiet business corner, like a 
dowager at a ball, " whose dancing days 
are over." 

But it was while Jeremy Gayre and his 
son Joshua — whose name figured at the 
tail-end of the firm — were the actual heads 
of a house in which Delone and Eyles had 
long ceased to be anything save sleeping 
partners, that a blow was dealt, sufiicient 
to have destroyed a business built on any 
other foundation than the rock of honesty. 

First, Delone elected to be paid out, and 
then Eyles. For long previously they had 
both been drawing the full share of the pro- 



GAYBE, DELONE, EYLES, AXD GAYRE. 

fits, and when the opportunity occurred they 
gladly said, paraphrasing the words of the 
Prodigal Son, " Give us the portion that 
falleth to us." Unlike the prodigal, how- 
ever, they did not waste their money in 
riotous living ; they bought estates, and 
went into mining and other speculations, 
and added to their store, and married 
heiresses, and took up their position among 
the first in the land, while Gayres' was 
left with a decreasing business and a re- 
duced capital. Well was it for the bank 
that the then principal in the firm had al- 
ways lived, not merely well within his in- 
come, but so as to save largely out of it. 
Jeremy Gayre was, indeed, one to have satis- 
fied the author of Banks and Banking, who 
thus drew, in pen and ink, a type of a 
class now well-nigh extinct : 

" He " {i.e. a banker of the old school) 
" bore little resemblance to his modern 
successor. He was a man of serious manners. 



7 8 .9 US AX DB UMMOyn 

plain apparel, the steadiest conduct, and a 
rigid observer of formalities. As you 
looked in liis face you could read, in in- 
telligible characters, that the ruling maxim 
of his life, the one to which he turned all 
his thoughts and by which he shaped all 
his actions, was, that he who could be 
trusted with the money of other men 
should look as if he deserved the trust, 
and be an ostensible pattern to society of 
probity, exactness, frugality, and decorum. 
He lived, if not the whole of the year, at 
least the greater part of the year, at his 
banking-house ; was punctual to the hours 
of business, and always to be found at his 
desk. The fashionable society at the 
West-end of the town and the amusements 
of high life he never dreamed of enjoy- 
ing." 

Times, even during the noon-day of Mr. 
Jeremy Gayre's existence, had changed so 
far that few merchants in a lame wav of 



GAYRE, DELOXE, EYLES, ASD GAYRE. 79 

business resided on their City premises. 
The upper portions of their houses couhl 
be utiUsed much more profitably, it had 
been found, than as mere dwelhngs ; and 
Mr. Gayre, who understood the full import 
of that old Scotch saw which tells how 
"many a pickle maks a mickle," when 
he married let off part of the Lombard 
Street establishment, moved " west of 
Temple Bar," and took up his abode in 
one of the old roomy houses in Xorfolk 
Street, Strand. 

There was no Embankment then, or 
thought of one. At high tide the water 
came lapping up to the railings at the 
bottom of the street ; and, save at the 
Strand end, there was no exit. Cabs and 
vans did not go tearing and rattling over 
the pavement, as is the case now ; and 
the dwelling Mr. Gayre bought was as 
quiet as though it had been situated in 
some retired City court. 



8o S US AN DR UMMOND. 

When in good course of time Joshua 
Gayre, the son, took unto himself a wife, 
he set up housekeeping in Brunswick 
Square, where four sons and one daughter 
were born and bred. Of these four sons, 
Jeremy, the eldest, died before he came of 
age. Edwin in due time went into the 
bank, in which, while still young he was 
associated as partner. John elected to take 
orders ; and, in compliance with the bent 
of the youngest son's inclinations, a com- 
mission was bought for Nicholas in a 
cavalry regiment. 

The three were all good men and true. 
They sowed no crops of wild oats for their 
father and themselves to reap. Edwin 
took kindly to banking, John to the 
Church, Nicholas to the army. The latter 
rose rapidly in the service ; he went 
through the Crimean campaign; and his 
regiment, crowned with distinction, had 
just returned to England, when the Indian 



GAYEE, DELONE, EYLES, AND GAYRE. 8i 

Mutiny caused it to be again ordered off 
to the East. 

Five years elapsed before young Gayre, 
who had fought his way to the rank of 
colonel, saw his native country once more ; 
then he came back in obedience to a 
summons from his father. 

Great trouble had fallen upon the head 
of the now elderly banker. Edwin was 
dead, and Margaret had left her husband. 
Mr. Gayre did not see how the Lombard 
Street business was to be carried on with- 
out help, necessitated by the state of his 
own broken health. 

Should he take a partner, or amalgamate 
with some other firm ; or would iSTicholas 
leave the army, and fill the place left 
vacant by the death of his elder brother? 
Xicholas took a week to consider, and then, 
to his father's infinite joy, signified his 
willingness to devote himself to commerce. 

With a clear head and a stout heart he 

Vol. i. 7 



82 5 us AN DB UMMOND. 

set to work to master the mysteries and 
intricacies of banking ; and if Gayres' had 
been a different establishment, one in which 
the energies of an active man might have 
found full scope, there can be little question 
he would in the commercial world have 
risen to eminence. 

But without changing entirely the lines 
on which the business had hitherto been 
conducted, he soon saw it would be vain 
to attempt to make the old bank a monetary 
power in the City. It might preserve its 
character for unspotted respectability, and 
for a lonof time be made still to return a 
fair income ; but no great financial future 
could be hoped for a house which had 
voluntarily dropped behind in the com- 
mercial race, and wilfully shut its eyes to 
the great changes for good or for evil 
being permanently wrought by steam, 
electricity, luxury, limited liability, the 
destruction of old landmarks, the extrava- 



GAYRE, DKLONE, EYLES, ASD GAYRE. 83 

gance of the Upper Ten, and, in the lower 

stratum of society, the determination of 

Jack to be as good as his master. 

All this did not trouble Mr. Nicholas 

Gayre to any very great extent ; and yet 

it would be idle to deny that it was a 

disappointed man who, leaning over the 

railings in Hj^de Park on that May day 

when Mr. Arbery's bay mare indulged in 

such wild antics, saw Susan Drummond 

for the first time. When he unbuckled 

his sword and took up the pen, when he 

exchanged the saddle for a seat in his 

father's office, there can be no question he 

relinquished a great deal ; but till he tried 

the experiment he fancied he should be 

able to find sufficient excitement in the 

heart of the City to compensate him, in 

part at least, for the career in which, 

when he abandoned it, he had so rapidly 

been rising to distinction. 

By degrees he learnt he and his people 

7-2 



84 S USAN BR UMMONB. 

were not made of the stuff out of which, 
at this time of the world's history, celebrated 
financiers are fashioned. The game was 
to be played, but not by him. Great 
things were possible, but not to Nicholas 
Gayre ; aud so, feeling he was out of the 
running, he stepped quietly aside and 
watched the mercantile game, where, as a 
rule, the stakes were power or poverty, 
wealth or bankruptcy, a baronetcy or 
outlawry, with a certain cynical pleasure 
he might not have derived from the con- 
templation of greater things. 

Never, perhaps, in the history of the 
City of London was there a better time 
for observing the humours of commercial 
speculation than the years immediately 
following his introduction to business 
life. 

The wild speculation, the reckless private 
expenditure, the sudden madness of all 
classes ; the swamping of little men, the 



GAYBE, DELONE, EYLES, AND GAYRE. 85 

absorption of small concerns into large, 
the wholesale annexation of many Naboth's 
vineyards in order that the great houses 
might have even " larger gardens of 
herbs; the pulling down and the rearing 
up ; the pomp, the pride, the extravagance ; 
the belief that the tide of apparent pros- 
perity, then running so strong, would never 
turn — these things, and many more of the 
same kind, were for a time — only a short 
time, though — stopped by the collapse of 

In one minute, as it seemed, the Corner 
House tottered and crashed in ; and for 
a while banks kept failing, firms stopping, 
old-established businesses tottering. Through- 
out the whole of England — from orphans 
who were left penniless, from widows 
stripped of their incomes, from country 
rectory and hall and cottage — arose an 
exceeding bitter cry of "mourning and 
desolation and woe '* 



86 SUSAN DBUMMOND. 

" See the end of these men, Nicholas," 
said old Mr. Gayre to his son. The pros- 
perity of many a mushroom concern had 
tried the banker's faith — indeed, it is not 
too much to say there were times when he 
felt he " had washed his hands in innocency 
in vain ; " but now, as he looked at the 
commercial ruin hastened by the collapse 
of the Corner House, he shook his head 
gravely. " ' I have seen the wicked in great 
power,' he quoted, ' and spreading himself 
like a green bay-tree. Yet he passed away, 
and, lo, he was not : yea, I sought him, 
but he could not be found.' We have 
great cause for thankfulness," added Mr. 
Gayre, after a moment's pause;- and truly 
such was the case. 

Weighed in the balance of that terrible 
panic, Gayres' was not found wanting. 
Every security was safe in the strong- 
room ; the bank needed no help — na}^ it 
found itself able to give assistance ; through 



GAYRE, BELOSE, EYLES, ASD GAYBE. 87 

the ordeal it passed in quiet triumph ; and 
yet, eight years later, Mr. Nicholas Gayre 
could not be regarded as a perfectly con- 
tented man. 

His being a nature which coveted success, 
it was scarcely to be expected he should 
feel satisfied with having merely compassed 
safety. " And yet," as himself remarked, 
" safety is a very good thing when it means 
the possession of a comfortable income." 




i ay/ 



CHAPTEE rV. 
UTi. gayre's brothee-in-law. 

^pALKING leisurely towards that 
JyMg "crib" hard by the Eegent's Park 
which Sir Geoffrey Chelston had appro- 
priated as coolly as the cuckoo does the 
hedge-sparrow's nest, Mr. Gayre employed 
his niind in dissecting the motives which 
were taking him to North Bank. Love 
for his brother-in-law could certainly not 
be reckoned amongst them. In every 
capacity of life — as man, as gentleman, 
as baronet, as husband, father, friend, 
relative — Sir Geoffrey was distasteful to 
him. Only for one thing had Mr. Gayre 
ever felt grateful to the well-born sinner. 
Sir Geoffrey's life had been so openly shame- 



MR. GAYEE'S BBOTHEE-IX-LAW. 89 

ful that it was vain for him ever to think 
of suing for a divorce. Lady Chelston was 
Lady Chelston still — living abroad in the 
strictest retirement on a pension duly paid 
to her every half-year by the solicitors of 
Messrs. Gayre and Co. The scandal, now 
an old story, was confined to the know- 
ledge of a very few persons ; it had never 
been a nine days' wonder or a case for the 
courts. Sir Geoffrey held his tongue about 
the woman who had made such a wreck 
of her life, and society did not trouble it- 
self to ask whether the disreputable Baronet 
were married or a widower. It knew in 
either state he was not fit to associate with. 
Voluntarily he had placed himself outside 
the pale as well of intimacy as curiosity, 
and no one thought of being inquisitive con- 
cerning him. To the Gayres the Chelston 
connection had ever been a source of loss, 
annoyance, and disgrace, and it was not 
love for his brother-in-law that could be 



90 S USAN BR UMMOND. 

one of the reasons now drawing Mr. Gayre 
to the unaccustomed pastures of the Eegent's 
Park. 

Given to sarcastic analysis of the motives 
of others, no one could accuse Mr. Gayre 
of undue lenity towards his own. It was 
not as a censor he regarded the foibles of 
his fellows ; on the contrary, his great fail- 
ing happened to be that he looked on life 
— unconsciously, perhaps — as a bystander 
at a game. He knew all the moves and 
tricks and subterfuges, and he watched the 
play with a cynical interest which even 
extended to the working of his own 
heart. 

Surprised perhaps at finding a Jiuman 
weakness in that great citadel, he would 
trace its birth and career with a curious and 
intelligent attention. As some persons have 
a mania for the study of bodily disease, 
his craze was to watch the manifesta- 
tion of mental sin and folly. Making due 



MB. GAYBE'S BBOTHEB-IN-LAW. 91 

allowance for original temperament, it might 
be said his nature had grown up malformed 
by reason of two accidents in early life. 
There was good m him and there was bad, 
and he would have assured any questioner 
solemnly there was neither bad nor good, 
that he was an utter negative ; that he had 
no pleasure except in watching a woman 
spin a web, and then invite some fly who 
thought himself ver}^ clever to walk across 
and see what a beautiful web it was, or, 
greater ecstacy still, noting the process by 
which one big thief was robbed by a bigger. 
Finding so little to do in Lombard Street he 
had turned his attention to these matters ; 
and having at length decided to go to Xorth 
Bank, it was most unlikely he would arrive 
there till he had ascertained why he had 
decided to call. 

" Given," he thought, " ten parts, there 
is one to form some slight conjecture how 
my precious brother-in-law, without a penny 



92 S US AN DR UMMOND. 

of visible income, without property, clia 
racter, or friends, manages to shuffle along. 
Shall we say one for that, or is it too 
much ? We'll say one. Two — because I 
reaUy can look no longer at my sister's 
child making such an exhibition of her- 
self, and feel constrained to stretch out a 
hand which may save her or — may not. 
Then there is Sudlow worrying me to death 
to introduce him. We'll put a half for that 
— three and a half out of ten ; how much 
is that per cent, in City phrase ? Never 
mind ; it leaves six and a half for the girl 
with the brown eyes, and the wonderful 
hair, and the pure complexion ; that is a 
large proportion. Nicholas, my friend, you 
had better mind what you are at. It's a 
case, I'm afraid, of either kill or cure ; 
you'll either find the first half-dozen words 
you hear her speak disenchant you totally, 
or else — you've met your fate. But I haven't 
met her yet," he added more cheerfully — 



MH. GAYEE'S BUOTHER-iy-LAW. 93 

" only seen her once with the breadth of 
the Eow between us — and for that matter, 
I may never meet her anywhere, or see 
her again." 

Having arrived at which conclusion, he 
turned down Xorth Bank, and sought the 
residence of his kinsman. 

Everyone acquainted with North Bank 
knows exactly the sort of house, secluded 
inside high walls, which obtains on the 
preferable or canal side of the way ; the 
mysterious postern-gate that, being opened, 
discloses three yards of gravelled path, a 
few evergreens, some trellis-work, and a 
peep of greensward and water beyond ; 
houses small, it may be, but capable of 
being in their style made anything — which, 
indeed, they often are — save respectable. 

Mr. Gayre smiled grimly as he recognised 
the type of dwelling, and asked the irre- 
proachable Lavender, who, in striped waist- 
coat, without his coat, and in what he 



8 US AN BR UMMOND. 

modestly called his " small clothes," answered 
the bell, 

"Is Sir Geoffrey in?" 

Lavender did not know in the least who 
the new-comer might be ; but he looked 
at the erect carriage, the trim cut-away 
coat, not half an inch too wide, not a 
quarter of an inch two small ; at the 
cropped head, the military moustache, the 
quiet tie, the trousers and waistcoat en 
suite, the command in the cold gray eye, 
and decided, 

" Here at last is somebody decent come 
to see master." 

"Well, sir," he answered, shocked at 
his deshabille and the consciousness there 
was no one to do the honours, " Sir 
Geoffrey is in, but he's not up. He did 
not come home till late last night, and 
he has not yet rung his bell." 

Which was, indeed, within the letter of 
truth ; for Sir Geoffrey had not come 



MR. GAYRE'S BROTHEB-IN-LAW. 95 

home till so late last night that the water- 
carts were abroad before he made his 
appearance, and when he did come was 
so drunk Lavender had no expectation of 
hearing his bell till late in the afternoon. 

"I ought to have taken that first check," 
said Mr. Gayre to himself in the days to 
come ; but he did not, and went on, '' Is 
Miss Chelston at home ? " 

" Yes, sir," answered Lavender ; " but — " 

"If you take in my card, she will see 
me," said Mr. Gayre ; " I am her uncle." 

"I knew it," affirmed Lavender, subse- 
quently ; " I knew it was somebody decent 
come to the house at last." 

"If you'll walk in, sir, please," he ob- 
served to Mr. Gayre; and that gentleman 
was consequently shown into the morning- 
room of young Mr. Moreby's lady-love — 
that lady-love whose doings, and more 
especially whose spendings, had so distracted 
the soul of Mrs. Moreby, widow. 



96 5 US AX DB UMMOXD, 

"Humph!" reflected Mr. Gayre, looking 
round the apartment, which was about 
eleven feet by seven ; "a fool and his 
money are soon parted." 

" If you will be pleased to walk this 
way, sir," repeated Lavender, who, having 
seized the opportunity of donning a coat, 
now felt himself quite a master of the 
ceremonies ; then, flinging wide the draw- 
ing-room door, he announced " Mr. Gayre." 

There was something so ludicrous about 
the whole business that Mr. Gayre could 
have laughed in his sleeve, had he not 
felt it was bad form on his niece's part 
to wait till he had crossed the small hall 
and entered the charming apartment over- 
looking the canal ere coming to make his 
acquaintance. 

"She is not a duchess," he thought ; 
" and, considering where I find her, she 
might be a little more natural. How- 
-ever — " 



ME. GAYRE'S :^JJTHEB-iy-LAW. 97 

" And so at last I see my niece," he 
said aloud ; and then Lavender discreetly- 
closed the door, and Mr. Gayre found 
himseK alone with a most lovely young 
woman, who, in the shyest manner, gave 
him her hand and timidly held up her 
face, so that he could kiss her if he 
liked. 

Which he did, though with no very 
great good-will ; and yet there were ten 
thousand young men in London, to say 
the least of it, who would have availed 
themselves of such a chance with effu- 
sion. 

Well, well, thus runs the world away, 
and it is only natural that it should. 

" And so at last I see my niece," Mr. 
Gayre repeated, which, for so usually 
ready an individual, seemed a needless 
waste of words. " Let me look at you 
in the light ; " and, framing her cheeks 
between his hands, he drew her towards 

Vol. i. 8 



98 SUSAN B^UMMOND. 

one of the windows. " If you are only 
as good as you are pretty," he said, 
releasing her. 

"0, I • don't think, uncle, I am so very 
bad," she answered, with delightful con- 
fusion. 

" How far are you off your copy-book 
days?" asked Mr. Gayre. 

" What a funny question ! Nine or ten, 
I suppose." 

"Then you remember self-praise is no 
recommendation." 

" 0, how dreadful, uncle ! I did not 
mean to praise myself. no ! I'm very, 
very sure of that, because — " 

" What is your name, my dear ? " he 
interrupted. 

" Marguerite," she answered. 

" And your mother was called Margaret. 
Well, perhaps better so." 

They talked together in the house for 
a while ; then they walked out on the 



MR. GAYBE'S BROTHER-IN-LAW. 99 

sharply sloping lawn for a time longer, 
she with a dainty parasol over her wealth 
of dark-brown hair, he bare-headed. Then 
they returned to the drawing-room, and 
after she had drawn the blinds half-down 
they exhausted, as it seemed to Mr. Gayre, 
all topics of ordinary interest, and he was 
just racking his brain to think what he 
should say to her next, when the door 
opened and Sir Geoffrey Chelston — clean, 
clothed, and in his right mind, and on 
his very, very best behaviour — entered the 
apartment. 

"I take this very kind of you, Gayre," 
he said — " deucedly kind indeed," he added- 
And soothed and cheered by these ameni- 
ties, Mr. Ga^Te resumed his seat. 

By dint of long endeavours to keep 

his hat on three hairs, Sir Geoffrey had 

contracted a habit of shaking his head, 

which caused many persons when first 

introduced to imagine (erroneously) he was 

8—2 



loo SUSAy DEUMMOM). 

afflicted with palsy or some other disease, 
which had somewhat impaired both his 
bodily and mental powers. 

Under this impression they were wont 
to challenge him to play billiards and 
other games, to take his bets, and all 
that sort of thing, and come signally to 
grief. 

If subsequently they departed cursing 
him, surely Sir Geoffrey was not to blame. 
It was only a habit ; but some men's 
habits are useful, and his proved emi- 
nently so. 

"This is your first introduction to your 
niece, isn't it ? " observed Sir Geoffrey, 
after a few interesting remarks had been 
made about the weather and the locality. 

" Well, and what do you think of her ?" 
he went on, with a knowing twitch of 
his head, when his brother-in-law had sig- 
nified acquiescence with the previous pro- 
position. "She's not so bad, is she?" 



ME. GAYEE'S BEOTHEE-IX-LAIV. loi 

" I have already taken the liberty of 
remarking to her that if she is only as 
good as she is pretty — " 

" Ay, that's the thing," interrupted Sir 
Geoffrey ; as though he himself were such 
a paragon of virtue, the mere idea of 
naughtiness proved repugnant to his moral 
sense ; " that's what I used to say to 
her and Susan, ' Beauty's only skin deep,' 
' Handsome is as handsome does.' Haven't 
I told you so a hundred times over, 
Peggy, when you were going to fly at 
Susan and scratch the ten commandments 
over her face because I said she was 
prettier than you ? " 

" I feel no doubt you have," answered 
Peggy, with a tender smile, which was 
somewhat belied by a look in her eyes 
that made Mr. Gayre fancy in her heart 
she desired nothing better at that moment 
than to grave some lines on Sir Geoffrey's 
sallow cheek. 



I02 SUSAN DRUMM02iD. 

"Who was Susan?" asked the banker. 
" I always thought you had never but 
the one daughter." 

" That's right enough — no more I had. 
Who was Susan ? why, the merriest Httle 
lass in the whole world, and fond of me, 
too — far fonder than my own child ever 
was. Lord ! it seems no longer ago than 
yesterday when she used to come running 
across the lawn, aud say to me, with 
both her little arms round my knees, 
"Dive me a wide, papa Geoff ; didn't 
she, Peg?" 

"I have no doubt she did," Peg rephed, 
with another smile. 

"Doubt!" repeated Sir Geoffrey; "why, 
you know she did, just as well as you 
know what a nice passion you used to get 
into when anybody said she had a better 
complexion than you." 

" I was only a child, papa," reminded 
Miss Chelston. 



MR. GAYRKS BROTHER-iy-LAW. 103 

"Ay, only a child," agreed the Baronet, 
with another indescribable twitch ; " and 
now you're a young woman, there's no 
need for you to be jealous of anybody, 
though I say it. And that brings us back 
to what your uncle remarked, that he 
hoped you were as good as you were 
pretty." 

" Well, you are a strange pair," con- 
sidered Mr. Gayre, contemplating parent 
and child with admiration. 

" And this Miss Susan," he suggested — 
" is she not pretty now ? " 

" yes, she is," said Sir Geoffrey, *' but 
she's not as handsome as my girl there. 
Those very fair children somehow don't 
look so well at twenty as at six. I can't 
tell why. Susan's good, though, that 
she is." 

Having dealt his daughter which back- 
handed compliment, and leaving both his 
hearers to take whatever meaning they 



1 04 S USAJS' DR UMMOND. 

pleased out of it, the Baronet proposed an 
adjournment to the next apartment. 

''You must have a glass of claret, Gayre, 
after your walk." he declared, with the 
hospitable warmth of a man who gets his 
claret for nothing. Mr. Gayre did not want 
the wine, but he accepted the proffered 
civility, as he wished to speak to his 
brother-in-law alone. 

"Xow look here," exclaimed Sir Geoffrey, 
piloting the way to the dining-room, " take 
some champagne, do — claret's an un-English, 
ungenial sort of tipple, except when one 
can't get anything else. I have some first- 
rate champagne, as you'll say when you 
taste it, and I'm going to have some my- 
self. Champagne and soda-water is the 
best " pick up " I know, and, to tell 
you the truth, I feel I need a pick up 
of some sort. We did keep the ball 
moving last night. I'd have been right 
enough if I'd never gone to bed ; but now 



MR. GAYRE'S BROTHER-iy-LAW. 105 

my head seems spinning round and round, 
like a coach-wheel. You'll have cham- 
pagne? That's right, with just a dash of 
brandy in it. I always advise the brandy; 
champagne's cold without, and, some people 
find, absolutely unwholesome too." 

Mr. Gayre said he would venture upon 
the champagne minus the brandy ; and this 
point being amicably settled, Sir Geoffrey, 
to show he was not recommending what 
he feared to practise, followed up the first 
prescription he ordered for himself with 
that he advised for his brother-in-law ; 
after which proceeding, regarded by Mr. 
Ga^re with curiosity, not to say awe, the 
Baronet stated he felt much better — "fit 
for anything, in fact." 

"You've dropped into a nice place here," 
said the banker, as he and Sir Geofirey 
sauntered down the garden. "You might 
be a hundred miles in the country." 

" Yes, it's quiet enough in all conscience," 



io6 5 USAy I)R VMM oyjj. 

was the reply ; " fact is, it's too quiet and 
out^of-tlie-way for me. Still, we can't have 
everything ; and the little cottage costs me 
nothing. Moreby — capital young fellow — 
lent it to me." 

" So I heard," remarked Mr. Gayre ; and 
he might have added he had also heard 
how Mr. Moreby came to lend it. 

" His mother took him abroad all in a 
hurry, and not an hour too soon," explained 
the new occupier, in the tone of a man 
who is paid for denouncing vice at the 
rate of about a guinea a word. " He was 
going a pace! Why, just look how this 
house is furnished ! I only wish I had the 
money it must have cost him." 

Eeally, to hear Sir Geoffrey talk, any 
one might have imagined he had never 
possessed a spare sixpence or been given a 
solitary chance in Iiis life. 

"It was too good an opportunity to let 
sHp," he went on, finding his brother-in-law 



MR. GAYKE-S BliOTHEE-lS-LAW. 107 

made no comment on the desire last ex- 
pressed, " for I had not a roof to put 
my head under. Don't think that would 
have troubled me^ though ; I can live any- 
where and on anything. I'd as soon sleep 
on the floor as not ; and nobody ever 
heard me object to gin when I could not 
get Cliquot ; " and having, in the con- 
templation of his own self-denial, almost 
dropped his hat. Sir Geoffrey shook it on 
again with the conscious rectitude of a 
person earning two pounds per week by 
hard labour, and contriving to save fifteen 
shillings out of it. 

"But it was my daughter," he said, after 
a slight pause. " I couldn't let the girl 
remain without a shelter, however willing 
I might be to make shift myself." 

"It was a difficult position, certainly," 
observed Mr. Gayre, feehng this concession 
could not compromise him. 

" Difficult ! I believe you ! Give you 



io8 S US AN BE UMMOND. 

my word, I could not sleep o' nights 
wondering what on earth I was to do with 
her ; " a statement which, as Sir Geoffrey 
very rarely slept of nights, usually soundly 
reposing by day, meant less than it might 
otherwise have done. 

" You called her Marguerite, she tells me." 

" Faith, that I did not, or anybody else, 
so far as I know, except herself. Her 
right name is Margaret, of course, but she 
thinks Marguerite fits her better, somehow; 
and if it pleases her, I am sure it may 
please me." 

" Has she many friends in London ? " 
asked Mr. Gayre. 

" Many ! — not a soul ; I don't know what 
to do with her, or how to set about 
getting her acquaintances. Time slips away; 
and I can't tell how long I shall be able 
to keep this house. It's confoundedly 
awkward altogether, for something ought 
to be doing." 



MB. GAYRE'S BEOTEER-IN-LAW. 109 

" You want to get her married, I sup- 
pose ? " 

" If I can," answered Sir Geoffrey, break- 
ing off a bay-leaf and eating it with great 
apparent relish. 

"You'll not compass your object, I'm 
afraid, by sending her out in the Park." 

" Have you seen her there, then ? " said 
Sir Geoffrey, reddening under his brother- 
in-law's steady gaze. 

" Yes ; that is how I knew you were 
in town. You had better let her abandon 
equestrian exercise. In the first place, she 
can't ride." 

" JSFo, indeed, she can't," groaned Sir 
Geoffrey ; " if she could she'd have been 
worth a fortune, in a way of speaking. 
But she'll never be of any use to me — 
not the least in the world ; she hasn't 
a notion of making herself useful. Why, 
with her appearance — " 

" You will have to be careful what you 



1 10 S USAN BE UMMOND. 

are about," interposed Mr. Gayre, with 
decision. "You must get some lady of 
position to introduce her." 

"I don't know who that lady is to be, 
then," retorted Sir Geoffrey. " If you can 
find her, I shall feel mightily obliged to 
you. It's all very easy to talk, but I can 
tell you it's not so easy to do. Why, 
there's my own second cousin on the 
mother's side. Lady Digley. When I was 
a boy the old people thought it would be 
a fine thing to make up a match between 
us ; and she was brought down to 
the Pleasaunce on view. But I couldn't 
stand her nose — too much of the Corio- 
lanus, Eoman-senator-business, about that 
nose. However, as I was saying, I wrote 
to her, telling her my daughter was in 
London, and mentioning the girl's good 
looks, and so on, and in plain words 
asking would she take her up." 

" Well ? " inquired Mr. Gayre. 



MR. GAFEE'S BROTHEH-iy-LAW. iii 

"The old hag sent an answer by return. 
Lady Digley presented her compliments, and 
the rest of it, and Lady Digley regretted to 
say circumstances over which she had no 
control compelled her to decline the honour 
of making the acquaintance of Miss Chelston. 
Damn her ! " added Sir Geofirey, with great 
fervour, referring to Lady Digley, and not to 
his own daughter. 

Mr. Gayre made no remark for a few 
minutes, but stood looking thoughtfully down 
upon the canal. 

The situation undoubtedly was awkward ; 
and it did not seem as if any fresh revelation 
was likely to improve its aspect. 

"Why did you bring her to town at 
all at present ? " he asked, after a pause, 
during which Sir Geoffrey, looking as much 
unhke a dove as possible, plucked another 
leaf. 

" Why ? " repeated that gentleman ; "be- 
cause I had no other place to leave her. It 



112 S USAX BR UMMOyj). 

seems to me, Gayre, you don't at all under- 
stand how I am situated." 

"I think I do," was the reply; "but had 
you no friends near your old place with 
whom the girl could have stayed for a 
while ? " 

" Deuce a friend," answered Sir Geoffrey. 
"Believe me, my dear fellow, when a man 
has got to the bottom of the hill, those 
who were civil to him at the top find it 
convenient to forget the fact of his exist- 
ence." 

" But your daughter," urged Mr. Gayre ; 
" young people form acquaintances for them- 
selves, and, as a rule, the young are not 
mercenary. Was there no single door held 
wide to welcome my niece ? " 

"Not one." 

"But think — for example, that Susan you 
were speaking of just now, did she hang 
back ? " 

" Susan Drummond ? No, she did not 



MR. GAYBE'S BROTHER-IN-LAW. 113 

hang back ; but she had nothing in her 
power. You see, about the time that things 
got to the worst with us her uncle died, and 
she had to clear out. She wrote me as nice 
a letter as you could wish to read. She was 
always fond of me, poor Susan! I know 
she thought a deal of me," added the Baronet 
almost sentimentally. 

Mr. Gayre looked askance at Sir Geoffrey, 
and wondered what in the world any girl or 
woman could see personally or mentally to 
admire in the disreputable jockey and bat- 
tered roue. 

"There is no accounting for the caprices 
of the sex," he decided, and reverted to the 
original question. 

" It will save us both a great deal of time 
if I am quite plain with you," he said, almost 
smiling as he spoke in Sir Geoffrey's slowly- 
lengthening face. " I don't mean you to 
dip deeper into my pocket than you have 
done ; but as regards my niece, I should 

Vol. i. 9 



1 14 5 us AN DR UMMOND. 

like her, at all events, to have a chance of 
making something better of life than an utter 
failure. For this reason I will see whether, 
amongst my own connection, I cannot find 
some one to chaperone her ; you must do 
your part, however. Keep her in the back- 
ground till she can come to the front pro- 
perly. Could you not, meantime, get some 
lady to reside in the house, as governess or 
companion, eh ? " 

" Well, I'm afraid not," answered Sir Geof- 
frey. " We've tried that sort of thing before, 
and though I am sure I was always most 
courteous and careful, still, ' once give a dog 
a bad name,' you know ; the respectable ones 
wouldn't stop, and — " 

Mr. Gayre laughed outright. "We 
need scarcely pursue the other side of the 
question," he said, a decision which, on 
the whole, proved rather a relief to the 
Baronet. 

"If your daughter had even some young 



MB. GA YRE 'S BRO THEB-IX-LA W. 1 1 5 

friend stopping with her for a time," sug- 
gested Mr. Gayre. " Where is that Miss 
Drummond ? wouldn't she come ? " 

" I daresay she would ; she spent more 
than half her time at Ch els ton Pleasaunce. 
Yes, she'd come fast enough ; but then, you 
see, I don't know where she is." 

"But your daughter does, no doubt." 
Sir Geoffrey shook his head dubiously. 
" I don't think so," he said. 

"Ask her," advised Mr. Gayre ; " there 
she is." 

And, indeed, there Miss Chelston was, 
framed within an open window, to which 
her father at once advanced. 

" Where is Susan Drummond now, do you 
know ? " he asked ; and Mr. Gayre, standing 
a step or two behind, watched her face as 
she answered, 

" Susan Drummond, papa. I haven't an 
idea. She was in Ireland, staying with some 

people who live near Killarney." 

9—2 



1 1 6 iS USAN DB UMMONB. 

"But you've an address where you can 
write to her ? " 

Miss Chelston lifted her beautiful eyes and 
looked at her father, as she answered, in the 
accents of utter truthfulness, "She did tell 
me where an aunt lived who would always 
forward on any letters ; but I have mislaid 
the direction, and quite forget what it was." 

" After that ! " thought Mr. Gayre ; and his 
meditations as he strolled through Eegent's 
Park homeward, were of a more unpleasant 
character than those with which he had 
amused himself a couple of hours previously. 





CHAPTEE V. 

A POSSIBLE SAMARITAN. 

^T is one thing to ask friends to " take 
up " a girl, and quite another to get 
to do it. 

This was Mr. Gayre's experience, at all 
events. He went very heartily into the busi- 
ness, in the first instance full of faith and 
hope, and later on with a species of despera- 
tion. 

" Margaret's child ! " repeated his brother, 
now a great dignitary of the Church, with 
a town house in Onslow square, Eector 
of Little Fisherton, Canon of Worcester 
Cathedral, Chaplain to the Queen, and 
Heaven only knows what besides — ''Mar- 
garet's child ! Ask Matilda to invite her to 



1 18 S USAN DR UMMOND. 

this house and introduce her to our friends ! 
My dear Nicholas, the thing is an utter im- 
possibihty. I would not for any considera- 
tion prefer such a petition to my wife." 

" Why not ? " demanded Mr. Gayre. 

"It is a matter into which I really must 
decline entering. Your own usually excel- 
lent sense should tell you it is out of the 
question persons in our position could for 
a moment entertain the idea of bringing for- 
ward the child of our unfortunate sister, 
and the daughter of that mbst disreputable 
reprobate Sir Geoffrey Chelston. Our dear 
Fanny and sweet Julia are not aware even 
of the existence ot such a cousin. And you 
say she is in London ; what a dreadful mis- 
fortune ! " 

Every one was in the same story ; the words 
might be different, but the sense proved the 
same. Sir Geoffrey rich might have managed 
to slip his daughter through a camel's eye 
into the social heaven presided over by Mrs. 



A POSSIBLE SAM ABIT Ay. 119 

Grundy ; but Sir Geoffrey without an acre of 
land, with no balance at his banker's, Hving 
on his wits, regarded by gentlemen of his 
own order as a very leper, had not a 
chance. 

"I reckoned without mine host," said Mr. 
Gayre to the Baronet Cagot. "It is not to 
be done." 

" I told you so at the beginning," 
answered Sir Geoffrey, who, if he had 
learned nothing else from experience, could 
not help knowing the sort of reception any 
creature belonging to him was likely to meet 
with from the fashionable world. " You 
meant it all kindly, Gayre, I know ; but there 
is no use in trying to kick against the pricks. 
You had better stop in your own comfort- 
able home, and not trouble about us out- 
at-elbow folks up here. If Margaret and I 
cannot swim together — and it seems we can 
neither of us do that — we must sink; and 
the Baronet, as he concluded, regarded his 



1 20 S us AN DE UMMONB. 

brother-in-law furtively out of the corner of 
one knowing eye, for he was wondering what 
on earth this latest benefactor meant to do, 
if not for him, for his daughter. 

" Confound him ! " considered Sir Geoffrey, 
" why does he not adopt her ? If he took 
her to Wimpole Street, and got some dashing 
widow to matronise her, and hinted he meant 
to give her a handsome dot^ he might pick 
and choose a husband for her. Ah, if I 
had only in my power what he has in his, 
I'd soon bring the old dowagers who have 
sons about me, begging and praying for my 
daughter's company! But he's only a duffer, 
that's what he is, spite of his military 
achievements and the old bank at his 
back. Lord, how lucky some men are ! " 
and Sir Geoffrey, with his hat more on one 
side of his head than ever, wended his 
virtuous way to pluck the latest pigeon 
good fortune had made him acquainted 
with. 



A POSSIBLE SAMARITAN. 121 

'' K Gayre were in my shoes he'd starve, 
that's what Gayre would do," he decided ; 
and he walked along thinking what a clever 
fellow Sir Geoffrey Chelston was, and what 
a fool Nicholas Gayre. "Still, I should like 
to know his notion about Peggy, because he 
has some notion, I'll swear." 

Sir Geoffrey would have been ver}^ wrong- 
in swearing anything of the kind. Mr. 
Gayre had no fixed notion whatever con- 
cerning the divine Marguerite. He wanted 
her to marry well ; but he failed exactly to 
see how, weighted as she was, she could 
marry at all. 

" I should say," was the result of Mr. 
Gayre's mental reflections, " That she is as 
awkward a girl to get ' settled ' as ever I 
saw in my life. India would be the place 
for her ; and yet I don't know. She might 
get a husband on the voyage out, most 
likely ; but then it is not every husband 
that would suit her. If she could have been 



122 SUSAN DBUMMOXD. 

properly brought out in London — but I see 
that is not to be thought of." 

There was one way this might have been 
accomplished — one way which would have 
suited Sir Geoffrey and his niece extremely 
well ; but it is only justice to that excellent 
sense Canon Gayre, in his suave voice and 
best pastoral manner, declared Nicholas 
possessed, to say the idea of adopting his 
niece had never once crossed the banker's 
mind. 

Even had he taken to her, which indeed 
was not the case, he would have thought 
a long time ere installing himself as a 
parent to another man's child, and that man 
Geoffrey Chelston. About Nicholas Gayre 
there was nothing much stronger than his 
strong common sense — that sense which 
induced him, when he went down to war 
amongst the City Philistines, to drop the 
title of Colonel, and sink into simple Mr. 
Gavre. 



A POSSIBLE SAMAEITAX. 123 

" I've seen," he said, " vans going about 
the City with ' Dr. Hercules Smith, blood- 
manure manufacturer,' and ' Sir Eeginald 
Jones & Co., patent stench-trap makers,' 
painted upon them. Thank you, nothing of 
that sort for me. I have no fancy to figure 
as Colonel Gayre, banker, like the fellow 
in the Volunteers who puts on his busi- 
ness-card, ' Major Eobinson, waste-paper 
dealer.' ' 

Upon the whole, excessive virtue has a 
great deal to answer for. Its action, as re- 
garded Margaret Chelston, had certainly the 
effect of making Mr. Gayre wonder whether, 
after all, there might not be some merit 
in vice. 

'' I need no man to remind me " — thus 
ran his thoughts — "what a black, disreput- 
able, sinful old sheep Chelston is ; but hang 
it ! surely if John's religion has any reaHty, 
that ought to make him more anxious to 
help the girl. She is not answerable for 



1 24 S USAN DR UMMOND. 

her father's faults ; and after all, she is 
Margaret's child." 

During the course of the stormy corres- 
pondence which ensued on the Marguerite 
question between the Canon and his brother, 
the banker made some unpleasant remarks, 
which the Eev. John took as personal 
injuries, concerning the priest and the 
Levite who past by on the other side, and 
left to a Samaritan their proper work of 
tending the man who had fallen among 
thieves. 

Nicholas, being at the time not merely 
very angry, and greatly disappointed, but 
possessed by a gibing devil, which at times 
" rent," and caused him to foam at the 
mouth," ransacked the New and Old Testa- 
ment for texts concerning the pride and 
worldliness of priests and Levites, to hurl 
at his brother's head. The Canon simply 
" ducked," and declined the contest ; he 
would not argue, he said, with a man in so 



A POSSIBLE SAMARITAN. 125 

" unfit " a state of mind. He promised to 
remember him in prayer. He alluded to St. 
Paul's oft-quoted statement concerning evil 
communications corrupting good manners, 
and mildly hinted he feared communication 
with that evil thing Sir Geofirey Chelston 
was corrupting the small amount of morality 
Nicholas had brought with him out of the 
army. 

In good truth, John Gayre was as furious 
as a Christain and a canon of Worcester 
might be. In orders he had done remark- 
ably well ; yet, since the death of his eldest 
brother, he had often felt that, but for 
orders, he might have done much better. 
Further, he never really loved Nicholas ; and 
Nicholas, on his part, had not fraternised 
with " canoness " Gayre and the mnior 
canonesses Gayre as he ought to have done. 
When dear Julia published a song for the 
benefit of the Lambeth Shoe and Stocking 
Society, Nicholas suggested, first, it was 



1 26 >S us AN DB UMMOND. 

brought out less to benefit bare-footed 
Lambeth than as a bid for a future primacy ; 
and then offered to buy up the edition and 
sell it for waste paper, on condition she 
forswore musical composition ever after ; 
whilst he criticised so mercilessly some 
" angelic " hymns written by our sweet 
Fanny, that the Canon's favourite child, 
feeling all moderate Church views vanity, 
and meeting with a sympathetic " priest," 
was for some time in danger of going over 
to the Eitualists, which would indeed have 
proved a most grievous slap in the face 
for that party from whose hands Canon 
Gayre hoped some day to receive a mitre. 

Altogether, a great division seemed im- 
minent in the Gayre camp one morning, in 
the fine June following that late May when 
Mr. Sudlow, leaning over the rails in Hyde 
Park, admired rank and beauty as, embodied 
in Miss Chelston, it rode timidly along the 
Eow. 



A POSSIBLE SAM ABIT AN. 127 

Mr. Gayre, banker, walking Cityward, had 
left an extremely nasty letter behind him in 
Wimpole Street, emanating from Mr. Gayre, 
Canon. It went into money matters, always 
a fatal and terrible subject to salect for 
family correspondence. It expressed quite 
plainly, grievances which had never before 
been more than hinted at. It referred to 
one topic, regarding which Nicholas desired 
forgetfulness ; and it said a man who 
voluntarily permitted himself to become 
entangled for a second time with Sir Geoffrey 
Chelston could only be considered a fit can- 
didate for the nearest lunatic asylum. 

" Moderate," proceeded Canon Gayre, 
" as you must be too well aware, my means 
are, in comparison with what I expected, 
and had a right to expect, they would prove, 
I should not have hesitated joining you in 
settling a small annuity on the daughter of 
our unfortunate and erring sister ; but to be 
exposed to your insolence because I refuse 



128 5 USAN DB UMMOKD. 

to disgrace my cloth by taking, as a mmate 
of my house and the associate of my wife 
and daughters, the child of a blackleg and 
a woman who forgot what was due to her 
name and her sex, is more almost than I 
can bear. Happily, however, I am not vin- 
dictive, and I shall earnestly pray you may 
never hereafter find some of the texts of 
that Scripture you now so painfully wrest, 
applicable to yourself. — Faithfully your 
sorrowing brother." 

There was so much " excellent sense," com- 
mon sense, worldly sense, plain useful sense, 
in this epistle, that it stung Nicholas to the 
quick. So far as money matters went, he felt 
himself blameless. He knew, if no one else 
did, his father had made a fair will, and left 
John as much or more in hard cash as the 
business would stand. He remembered the 
annuity paid to his sister came out of his 
own pocket ; he was aware that, had he 
not given up a profession to which he was 



A POSSIBLE SAMARITAN. 129 

devoted, Jolin's large income Avould have 
been considerably smaller ; he understood 
perfectly what his brother wanted was a 
share in the bank, if not for himself, at least 
for one son-in-law, or perhaps two sons-in- 
law. It was not as regarding £ s. d. the 
letter irritated, though it hurt ; no arrow 
the Canon shot really found its mark, save 
that which criticised the prudence of his 
conduct regarding Margaret No. 2. 

He was well aware he had acted on an 
impulse he was powerless to control, and 
Mr. Nicholas Gayre did not hke to act on 
impulse. 

Canon Gayre himself could not have looked 
with more disfavour on such a freak than 
the banker of Lombard Street. 

" However," thought that gentleman, " I 
have gone in for my niece, and I shall try if 
I cannot ' see her through.' The materials 
are not promising; nevertheless, I thmk 
something may be done. The world is not 

Vol 3. 10 



1 30 8 US AN DB UMMOND. 

bounded by my own social horizon, and it is 
inhabited by a good many other people 
besides Canon John and Lady Digley — only, 
who is going to play the part of good Sa- 
maritan ? " 

A pertinent question, truly. Mr. Gayre 
had gone the round of his own friends, and 
met with " No," for answer in every tone 
and every form of words a negative could 
be uttered. It was clearly of no use ex- 
pecting help from Sir Geoffrey ; and so far 
the young lady herself appeared either 
unable or unwilling to mention the name of 
any person with whom she could take up 
her abode, or who might be induced to 
enter the gates of North Bank as an honoured 
guest. 

" Still," considered Mr. Gayre, " the 
thing is to be done, and I must do it, if only 
to take the canoness ' down a peg ;' " in- 
spirited by which idea, the banker mended 
his pace, and, walking briskly Cityward, 



A POSSIBLE SAMAEITAN. 131 

reached Lombard Street just as the clock 
of St. Mary Woolnoth chimed half-past 
eleven. 

On the top step of the three which at 
Gayres' afforded departing customers that 
number of chances for breaking a Hmb the 
banker beheld an apparition which filled 
him with ire. It took the bodily form of 
Lavender, but behind it Mr. Gayre knew 
stood the prompting figure of Sir Geoffrey. 
Now, he had told that worthy in plain and 
unmistakable language he must not ask him 
for money or appear at the bank. "Here 
is the first breach of our convention," he 
muttered, acknowledging with but scant 
courtesy Lavender's pleased and respectful 
greeting, and receiving the letter written by 
the Baronet's own hand in a somewhat un- 
gracious manner. 

"I took it to Wimpole Street, sir," ex- 
plained the man, "but you had just left; 

and as Sir Geoffrey he wanted an answer 

10—2 



1 32 SUSAN BE UMMOND. 

very particular, I got on a bus, and came 
here as fast as I could." 

"Don't stand there," answered Mr. Gayre 
testily. " I can't attend to you for a few 
minutes — wait inside till I am at leisure." 
And having thus successfully snubbed poor 
Lavender, and permitted the bank porter, 
and consequently every clerk in the estab- 
lishment, to see there was " something up 
with the governor," he walked into his own 
room, still holding Sir Geoffrey's envelope 
unopened in his hand. 

There was a pile of letters awaiting his 
attention, and to these — laying aside the 
Baronet's epistle, as though some serpent 
might be expected to crawl out of it — he 
first addressed himseK. 

Almost at the bottom of the heap he 
came upon a tinted envelope, with an im- 
posing crest wrought in silver for seal. The 
banker smiled as he drew out the enclosure, 
and read : 



A POSSIBLE SAMABITAK. 133 

'' Brunswick Square, Wednesday, 
"Deak !Mr. Gayre, — As usual, I am in 
trouble, and also as usual I ask you to advise 
and help me. 

" My poor little Ida is still ailing, and 
Dr. Tenby says I must get her out of town. 
He does not want her to go far away, as it 
will be necessary for him to see her fre- 
quently. He recommends me to take a 
house in the country, and yet near London — 
for, sweet darling, she is so delicate, she re- 
quires every possible home comfort. There 
is a place to let near Chislehurst (fur- 
nished) which, from the description I have 
received of it, would, I think, suit her 
exactly; but, alas, I am chained to the sofa 
with a sprained ankle. There is no hope 
of my being able to walk for weeks ; and 
the agent writes that the house is sure 
to be snapped up immediately. What 
am I to do? Have you any elderly 
and reliable clerk who could go down 



1 34 aS USAX DE UMMoyD. 

and bring back a faithful report of "The 
Warren ? " 

" Of course, whatever expenses might be 
incurred I should' be only two happy to 
pay. I am always encroaching on your 
kindness ; but I know you ^vill forgive me. 
Is not the weather lovely now? It does 
seem so dreadful to be pent indoors, with 
the sun shining and the birds singing. — 
Yours very sincerely, 

" Eliza Jubbijs'S." 

"Eliza Jubbins will be the Good Samari- 
tan," said Mr. Gayre aloud in triumph. "I 
wonder how I could be so stupid as never 
even to think of her ; " and seizing a pen, 
he wrote back : 

'" Dear Mrs. Jubbixs, — I will go to Chisle- 
hurst for you with much pleasure. Tell 
me to whom I must apply for an order. 
When I call with a full report I shall hope 
to find you and Ida much better. — Yours 
faithfully, I^icholas Gayee. 



A POSSIBLE SAMABITAX. 135 

" XoTT to see what Chelston wants. I 
wish he had not selected this particular 
time for beginning to worry me ; " and, 
seizing the Baronet's epistle, he tore it 
open with the air of a man determined to 
to face the worst. 

And behold, after all, there was nothing 
so very terrible — only a crossed cheque, 
with a good signature attached, which Sir 
Geoffrey wanted his brother-in-law to cash. 

" For I have no banking account," he 
explained ; " and if I took it to any of 
the tradespeople I should perhaps be ex- 
pected to leave most part of the change 
behind me." 

Mr. Gayre pressed his bell. 

" Spicer," he said, " send in the person 
who has been waiting for me, and tell 
Hartlet I want him." 

Doubtful, perhaps, of the reception he 
might meet with. Lavender hung beside 
the door till the banker, with all his usual 



136 S US AN DB UMMOND. 

affable frankness when addressing those 
inferior to himself restored, bade him come 
forward ; and while Hartlet was absent 
getting fifteen ten-pound notes, the precise 
form Sir Geoffre}^ had requested the change 
might take, asked how Miss Chelston was, 
and remarked on the fineness of the weather, 
and altoo^ether relieved and satisfied the 



man. 



" 0, by-the-bye," said Mr. Gayre at last, 
" do you remember one day when you 
were in the Eow seeing a gentleman's 
horse shy at a stone roller ? It was a 
hunter — ^bay, with black legs." 

" Yes, sir, well ; he was riding with Miss 
Drummond. I don't know if you noticed 
her horse — a very handsome animal too." 

"It was the bay took my fancy," an- 
swered Mr. Gayre. " Do you happen to 
know the rider's name ? " 

" No, sir, I never saw him before ; but 
he was a free-spoken sort of gentleman, 



A POSSIBLE SAMARITAN. 137 

not long back from the Colonies, as he 
gave me to understand, and, if I remember 
right, he said he and Miss Susan had ridden 
across from a place I think he called Enfield 
Highway. I don't know if I am quite right 
in the name." 

" There is an Enfield Highway," remarked 
Mr. Gayre ; and then he put up the notes 
in an envelope, which he handed to Laven- 
der, smiling to think hovr far matters seemed 
to have advanced in the course of a single 
morning. 

" I'll see, my dear niece," he decided, 
" whether I cannot ascertain Miss Drum- 
mond's address, which you say you have 
forgotten." 





CHAPTEE YI. 

ELIZA JUBBINS. 

jHEN Colonel Gayre decided to ex- 
change his sword for a pen, he 
took up his residence in Brunswick Square 
with old Mr. Gayre, who had long deter- 
mined not to remove from that central 
and convenient locality till the time came 
for him to be carried to the Gayre vault 
in Highgate Cemetery. 

The house was situated on the north, or 
quietest, side of the square. IN'o fault 
could be found with the number or size 
of the rooms, the healthfulness of the situa- 
tion, or the general air of comfort pervading 
the whole dwelling. Nevertheless, Mrs. 
John Gayre and her husband both professed 



ELIZA JUBBIXS. 139 

themselves surprised at tlieir father elect- 
ing to stop in a house where he had known 
so much trouble. His wife and son both 
died in it ; and there, also, he faced that 
bitter sorrow concerning his daughter. 

John urged the old man to make his 
home with them, or, at least, to move 
further westward, and " away from all the 
sad memories which clustered around Bruns- 
wick square ; '' but his parent asked in re- 
turn, "Where could I go that it would be 
possible for me to forget ni}^ dead ? " 

Those were the days ere it had become 
a fixed belief of the Enohsh nation that 
happiness and health are to be compassed 
by eternal change of residence ; but yet 
John Gayre felt it very unreasonable for 
any one to refuse the delights of constant 
clerical companionship and those intellec- 
tual pleasures only to be found in the more 
fashionable parts of London. He and his 
wife became more exercised in their minds 



I40 S USAN DR UMMOND. 

than ever as to whether the sole-survivmg 
member of the Gayres meant to take a 
certain "designing" manager into partner 
ship. Long previously Mrs. John had set- 
tled future banking arrangements entirely 
to her own satisfaction. Her brother was 
to put in a certain amount of money ; and 
then his son would marry dear Julia or 
Fanny, and so " preserve " Gayres for the 
family. John had been " pushed forward " 
in the Church in a truly "miraculous man- 
ner," but his wife wished him to be pushed 
forward a great deal more. 

A most worldly and ambitious woman, 
she was constantly trying to manage an old 
gentleman who erred, perhaps, on the side 
of fancying that all his life he had con- 
trived to manage exceedingly well for him- 
self. Mr. Gayre, however, utterly declined 
to be managed. He got very tired, he 
said, of general society, and, resisting all 
attempts to induce him to change his abode. 



ELIZA .JTCBBIXS. 141 

he " shut himself up," to quote Mrs. John 
Gayre's own words, "to question the justice 
of the Ahnighty." But in this statement 
she was quite wrong. Mr. Gayre was a 
much truer Christian than his daughter-in- 
law had ever been. He had lost, but he 
did not sorrow as one who has no hope ; 
disgrace had touched him, but he went 
among his fellow-men and transacted his 
business notwithstanding. As for other 
matters, he still maintained his custom of 
giving four formal dinner-parties each year ; 
and if the guests who accepted his invita- 
tions seemed to Mrs. John " dreadful people," 
they suited the banker a vast deal better 
than the folks he met when seduced to an 
" at home " in Onslow-square. 

They might not know much of Court 
or the " dear Queen," or dukes and duch- 
esses, but some of them were acquainted 
with Baring and Eothschild ; and if they 
could not talk about the latest pieces of 



142 SUSAN BRUMMONB. 

fashionable scandal, they were aware how 
stocks stood, and shook their heads mourn- 
fully over Jones's huge failure, and told 
how Smith had netted fifty thousand 
at one transaction. Further, at his dinner- 
table he delighted to see the clergyman 
from the church situate in Eegent Square, 
just at the back of his own house, and 
any officer or civilian to whom Nicholas 
asked him to show a little attention. 

There was plenty to eat in Brunswick 
Square, and of the best quality, Mr. Gayre's 
spreads differing in this respect from the 
Onslow Square parties, where, as once was 
said, a fellow never got anything except 
" water ices and iced water." 

Mrs. John Gayre had, indeed, reduced 
gentility to a science. Her " social gather- 
ings " finally became so eminently genteel, no 
one who could help it went to them twice. 
Mr. Gayre had reason when he objected to 
drive all that distance and stand "in a 



ELIZA JUBBIXS. 143 

crowd" with nobody he knew near him, 
and get nothing in the way of food save a 
morsel of sandwich and a wine-glassful of 
claret-cup. ^Vhat he enjoyed, and what 
really kept him in Brunswick Square, was 
the companionship of a few old friends, 
who liked their rubber and a bit of sup- 
per to follow, and something hot and com- 
fortable in the way of punch as a genial 
good-night ; all Hghts out by half-past 
eleven, and the whole household warmly 
asleep before twelve. Insomnia was not a 
thing Mr. Gayre knew much about, and 
he did not want to know about it. 

" The modern manner of living," he was 
wont to declare, "brings all sorts of evil 
in its train ;" a sentiment his friends in 
Bedford and Eussell Squares and Gower 
and Guildford Streets were quite willing to 
echo so long as old-fashioned customs pre- 
sented so pleasant an aspect as they did in 
the hospitable banker's house. 



144 S USAN DB UMMOSB. 

Amongst the friends who for many a 
long year after Mrs. Gayre's death had 
helped to soothe the widower's loneliness by 
taking a hand at a rubber was a certain 
Mr. Jubbins, who, ^though not old in com- 
parison with most of the worthies wont to 
assemble in the comfortable drawing-room, 
was certainly by no means youthful. His 
father had been a well-to-do oil-merchant 
in a very large way of business ; and Mr. 
Samuel Jubbins, devoting his attention to 
the same line of money-making, contrived, 
through some process, either chanced upon 
by himself or devised by another person, 
literally to turn oil into gold. Give him 
the dirtiest, thickest-looking stuff imaginable, 
and it came forth from his warehouse 
clear and beautiful, a tiling to be admired, 
an article to be paid for. 

This wonderful process seemed also to 
have produced a similar effect on Mr. Jub- 
bins. All the oil of his nature was ^ood 



ELIZA JUBBINS. 145 

and pleasant and genial. No better, or 
honester, or kinder man ever cut for deal. 
He was good to the poor swarming in the 
courts off Gray's Inn Lane, and other neigh- 
bourhoods adjacent to his house ; and he 
bore the tyranny and the tantrums of an 
elderly maiden sister, whose bitter tongue 
was the terror of Bloomsbury, with a 
patience which should have secured him 
canonisation. 

Amongst his many friends was a solicitor, 
who lived in great style at a corner house in 
Bedford Square, having offices in Bedford 
Eow. This solicitor owned one child, a 
daughter ; and Mr. Jubbins had dandled 
this young lady when she was a baby, and 
won her childish heart with presents of 
fruit and cakes and confectionery. Her 
name was Eliza Higgs ; and it may safely 
be said, as a girl, no greater hoyden ever 
existed. 

When they were all little folks together, 

Vol. i. u 



146 SUSAN DBUMMOyD. 

she and the smaller Gayres were close 
friends ; and on wet days they were wont 
to play at battledore and shuttlecock in 
the wide hall of the Bedford Square house, 
and drive imaginary coaches and tandems 
up and down stairs, to the distraction of 
their elders. 

Eliza Higgs was the youngest and worst 
of the trio. She had a hard, well~filled-out, 
good-natured, lively face ; wonderful brown 
hair ; as stout and straight a pair of legs 
as ever gladdened a parent's heart ; activity 
which seemed simply inexhaustible ; and a 
capacity for getting into mischief which 
could only be regarded as miraculous. 
She was in love with Nicholas Gayre, and 
used to kiss him in a manner the boy re- 
sented with many shoves and angry remon- 
strances ; but, on the whole, he liked Eliza 
very much indeed, and preferred her com- 
panionship, when any deed of daring was in 
question, to that of his more timid sister. 



ELIZA JUBBiyS. 147 

When Nicholas Gayre returned home for 
good he found the bouncmg Eliza, Mrs. 
Jubbins, and the mother of several tallow- 
faced and delicate children. Mr. Higgs' 
affairs had arrived at such a state of en- 
tanglement that he tried to hang himself. 
Being cut down just in time, Mr. Jubbins 
stepped forward to the rescue, and proved 
the splendid fellow everybody had always 
thought him. He took the Higgs helm, 
arranged with Higgs' creditors, found money 
for the Higgs establishment ; and finally, 
one Sunday morning, when he was escorting 
Eliza back from St. Pancras church, asked 
her if she would marry him. 

Had Miss Jubbins known she had kept 

her brother single till he was fifty years 

old, only in order that he might propose 

for her god-daughter, she must have risen 

from her grave ; but she did not know or 

hear Miss Higgs' murmured "Yes." 

The young lady had been warned by 

11—2 



T 48 8 us AN DB UMMOND. 

her mamma that a proposal was imminent, 
and told on no account to indulge in any 
little affectations or pretences. 

" Our position is too serious, my dear, to 
be trifled with," said the astute lady ; and 
accordingly Eliza — who could not forget the 
shock her papa had given them all, or the 
mere thread which stood between her and 
beggary, or, to do her justice, Mr. Jubbins' 
kindness — gave her lover to understand she 
would marry him with great pleasure. 

When the happy man reached Bedford 
Square, he had one of those kisses Nicholas 
Gayre once received with such disfavour. 

" God bless you, dear," he said ; and 
went away because he wanted to be alone 
with his bliss. 

That same afternoon, Mrs. Higgs, who 
was an eminently practical person, with no 
tendency to let the grass grow under her 
feet, called on Mr. Gayre, and had a 
long chat with that gentleman. 



ELIZA JUBBINS. 149 

" I left Liza crying," she said, with a 
cheerful countenance, after she had told 
her good news, "and you'd never guess why." 

"Perhaps," suggested the banker — who 
thought the whole arrangement most sensi- 
ble and proper, and ' evincing a right feel- 
ing ' — " because he is nearly thirty years 
older than herself." 

" dear, no," answered Mrs. Higgs ; 
" she does not mind that at all." 

" Had she any other lover ? " 

"Not that she cared for." 

"Was she fond of any one who was not 
fond of her ? " 

"Good gracious! what ar6 thinking of? 
Certainly not, Mr. Gayre." 

" Then, as I have exhausted all my 
guesses, will you tell me why your daughter 
was crying when you left her ? " 

" Because her name would be Jubbins. 
' Higgs,' she said, ' was bad enough, but 
only to think of Jubbins ! ' " 



1 50 S us AN BE UMMOND. 

"Ah, those novels, those novels!" ex- 
claimed Mr. Gayre ; and then with a glad 
heart, he offered Mrs. Higgs a glass of 
wine, for the banker was a very kindly 
man, and sincerely lamented the misfor- 
tunes of his friends, when they did not 
ask him for any money to tide them over 
their troubles; and he thought reverses in 
a certain rank of life were most lament- 
able, and that if any one member of a 
family could help the remainder to regain 
their former position, it was the duty of 
that individual to make even a great 
sacrifice in order to avert the social scandal 
of wealth being reduced to poverty. 

In the matter of Eliza Higgs, as wife, 
mother, and widow, she behaved precisely 
Avith that admirable feeling and excellent 
sense Mr. Gayre expected. She could 
scarcely have been human, and failed to 
prove grateful to the man who thought 
her perfection, and deemed nothing in the 



ELIZA JUBBINS. 151 

world money could purchase, or love think 
of, too good for his young and handsome 
wife. 

Xo happier couple could have been found 
in the whole of Bloomsbury, where Mrs. 
Jubbins was pointed out as an example 
to refractory misses, and a rebuke to 
skittish matrons. 

She learnt to play whist almost as well 
as her husband, and Mr. Gayre often 
crossed the square in order to play a 
rubber, and spend a quiet evening in the 
Jubbins house, which was ordered on the 
same lines as found favour on the north 
side. 

Mr. Jubbins, making money a vast deal 
more rapidly than Mr. Gayre, spent but 
a small proportion of his income, and in- 
vested the rest in good undertakings. He 
looked up to the banker as his superior 
in age, rank, and wealth, and Mr. Gayre 
liked to be so looked up to; therefore the 



152 S USAN DR UMMOND. 

intercourse between the two houses grew 
closer and closer. 

Things were in this state when Nicholas 
Gayre commenced, under his father's tute- 
lage, to learn the knowledge and mystery 
of banking ; and though he never associ- 
ated freely with, or took kindly to, the 
Bloom sbury connection, it was impossible 
for him to avoid seeing a great deal of it. 

"Where could you find kinder or more 
excellent people ? " asked the old man, who 
saw, or fancied he saw, a sign of the 
cloven foot — the West-end mania — in his 
son. 

"All your friends, sir," answered Mr. 
Gayre, jun., " do, indeed, appear to be 
most kind and excellent persons." ("At 
the same time," he added mentally, " it 
is quite possible to see too much of 
them.") 

He made no mention, however, of this 
feeling to his father. Long habits of mili- 



ELIZA JUBBIIs^S. 153 

tary dLscipline, and sincere affection and 
profound respect for a parent who had 
always acted kindly and liberally towards 
him, tied the ex-officer's tongue concerning 
questions far more vexed and important than 
the choice of acquaintances or the selection 
of guests. 

He did not abandon his own circle, but 
he concealed the weary impatience he felt 
of the Bloomsbury dinner-parties and social 
evenings. The Israehtes never could have 
loathed the wholesome manna and the too 
plentiful quails to the same extent that 
Nicholas Gayre learned to hate whist and 
port-wine and whitebait and lark-pudding 
and City talk ; but in a most difficult posi- 
tion he behaved himself remarkably well, 
and though his father's friends never, per- 
haps, felt themselves quite at ease when he 
was of the company, they liked to speak 
about young Gayre, who, in spite of his 
having " been at Balaclava, you know, and 



1 54 S US AX DB UMMOXD. 

all through the Mutiny, had given up liis 
profession and his brilliant prospects to please 
his father, and was settling down in Lombard 
Street as if he had been sitting behind a 
desk all his life, like one of our own sons, sir." 
Years had come and years had gone, 
since the days when Nicholas and his sister 
and Eliza Higgs romped through the large 
house in Bedford Square ; but the first thing 
Colonel Gayre thought of, when he saw Mrs. 
Jubbins in the bosom of her family, was 
concerning those sounding smacks she had 
been in the habit of bestowing so lovingly 
and lavishly upon him. He had forgotten 
all about them and her, till his father piloted 
him across Brunswick Square, and took him 
up into the great drawing-room, the windows 
of which almost faced those of Mr. Gayre's 
own house, and said proudly, " I have 
brouo'ht an old friend to see vou, Mrs. 
Jubbins. I do not suppose you remember 
my son Nicholas." 



ELIZA JUBBIXS. 155 

Did she not, poor soul ? Had not a wander- 
ing thought gone forth to him across the 
seas even on her wedding-day? — though 
Heaven knows there was not a taint of dis- 
loyalty in her thought to the best husband 
that ever lived. 

" I am so glad you have come back to us, 
Colonel Gayre," was her greeting. 

Then it all returned to him — the battle- 
dore and shuttlecock, the mad galloping up 
and down stairs, the surreptitious descents 
to the kitchen, the visits to the housekeeper's 
room, the kisses, the quarrels, the jam, the 
scoldings, the delights snatched with a fear- 
ful joy and terror from under the very eyes 
of Higgs pere. The change was so complete 
and so absurd, Colonel Gayre felt the corners 
of his mouth twitching under the shelter of 
that friendly moustache, which had so often 
protected his character for gravity ; but he 
managed to say what he ought to have said, 
and say it well. And then ^Ir. Jubbins 



iS6 SUSAy BEITMMOND. 

appeared, and the visit passed off pleasantly ; 
and the Jubbins' children, who were supposed 
by a Bloomsbury fiction, to inherit the beauty 
of their mother and the virtues of their 
father, were introduced, and politics, as well 
as more material fare, were discussed ; and 
the head of the house hoped Colonel Gayre 
would never feel a stranger in it. 

Then once again the years went by, and 
during the course of them Mr. Jubbins 
waxed richer and richer, and Mrs. Jubbins 
comelier, and the Gay res got a little poorer ; 
and everything seemed going on in the same 
monotonous groove much as usual, when 
one day in the spring of 1865, Mr. Jubbins, 
returning home from the City somewhat 
earlier than usual, complained of having 
caught a cold and not feeling very well. 

Ever after he never felt very well, and 
it was during the long and painful illness 
which supervened, and eventually carried 
him where there is no more pain and 



ELIZA JVBBINS. 157 

no more sorrow (and Mr. Nicholas Gayre 
hoped no more whist), that Mrs. Jubbins 
won her golden spurs as a wife. 

Nursing him she lost flesh and colour, 
but never cheerfulness. To the last she 
took a smile with her into the sick-room ; 
and when Mr. Jubbins died, it was with 
his poor wasted hand clasped tight in hers. 

" The best woman in the world ! " said 
old Mr. Gayre enthusiastically, an opinion 
his son did not feel inclined to controvert. 

He considered Mrs. Jubbins' conduct to- 
wards her husband unexceptionable ; and 
if she failed to interest her old playfellow, 
it was rather because of some deficiency 
on his part than any shortcoming on hers. 

After the death there ensued more than 
a nine days' wonder. With the exception 
of a very small sum secured to the children 
and a few legacies of no great amount, 
everything was left unconditionally to the 
widow. 



158 >S US AN DR UMMOXD. 

"Literally everything," said Mr. Gayre 
senior, who was executor. 

" She'll have the whole City of London 
asking her in marriage," thought Mr. 
Nicholas ; but he did not say so. 

He knew nothing vexed his father to 
such an extent as any reflections on the 
City ; therefore, if the Lord Mayor and 
Aldermen and every member of the Cor- 
poration had come courting to Brunswick 
Square, he would have refrained his tongue 
from comment. 

But, as a matter of fact, nobody did any- 
thincf of the sort. Mrs. Jubbins afforded 
the many admirers she no doubt possessed 
small chance of declaring their sentiments. 

For a year she lived in the strictest se- 
clusion, having Mrs. Higgs, now also a 
widow, resident with her, seeing no one 
except a few old and intimate friends, and 
mourning most deeply and unaffectedly for 
the husband whose loss, as she told Mr. 



ELIZA JUBBISS. 159 

Gap'e, she felt more deeply day by 
day. 

This was all as it should be ; yet at the 
end of a twelvemonth, ^Ir. Gayre decided 
there is a limit even to mourning and pro- 
priety, and that it would be a serious loss 
to the world if such a woman took her 
grief to nurse for ever. 

" It is time she began to wean it," thought 
the banker. This was after the great crash 
of 1866, and his attention had been 
directed even more than usual to the solid 
advaatages conferred by a large income. 
" She's the very wife for Nicholas, if he 
can only be brought to think so. What 
is there against the match ? Nothing. 
What is there in favour of it ? Every- 
thing." And indeed so many golden rea- 
sons seemed to point to the Jubbins-Gayre 
alliance as a most desirable one for both 
parties that the banker decided some step 
ought to be taken, unless Nicholas meant 



i6o SUSAN BRUMMONB. 

to permit such a prize to slip through his 
careless fingers. 

So entirely at length did this idea take 
possession of his mind that he determined 
to broach the subject to " my son 
Nicholas." 

It was one Saturday morning, and senior 
and junior were alone in the private room 
at Gayres', when the old man, without any 
leading up to the question, asked, 

" Do you never think of getting married, 
Nicholas ? " 

" Well, no, sir," answered Nicholas ; " at 
least, for a long time past I have not. 
Once in a life, surely, is enough for a man 
to make a fool of himself ; " which remark 
had reference to a wild romantic passion 
of the speaker's youth which had come to 
a disastrous conclusion. 

" Ah, you must forget all that," said Mr. 
Gayre. " I am sure you would be a great 
deal happier married. All men should 



ELIZA JUBBINS. i6i 

marry, more particularly men who, like your- 
self, have an old name to transmit, and an 
old business to bequeath. I know nothing 
which would give me such pleasure as to 
see you united to a good wife. You have 
been such a dutiful son, Nicholas, you de- 
serve to meet with a woman who could 
give you more love even than your old 
father has done." 

There was a touch of deep feeling in 
Mr. Gayre's voice as he spoke ; and as 
Nicholas did not know very well what to 
answer, he only said, 

''Thank you, sir." 

" And there is a woman," proceeded the 
banker, "who, I am sure, would make you 
happy, and I think would take you if you 
asked her." 

" Indeed ! " exclaimed his son. 

"Yes, Eliza Jubbins." The plunge was 
made, and Mr. Gayre felt he could go on. 
" A most suitable match in every respect, 

Vol. i. 12 



i62 SUSAN DRUMMOND. 

Mcholas. She is a few years younger 
than yourself. She is still a very hand- 
some woman ; you know how she ac- 
quitted herself as a wife. You remember 
what a daughter she was. She has — 
but there, I won't mix money matters 
up with the business. If she had not a 
penny a year, she would still be a 
treasure in herself. We know all about her 
since the day she was born. No after-clap 
can come in that quarter ; and I believe — 
I do believe — she always felt a great re- 
gard for you." 

It would be idle to state that so astute 
a man as Nicholas had not known for some 
time previously whither his father's desires 
were drifting. Nevertheless, this plain in- 
timation of what Gayres expected from 
him in the way of a fresh sacrifice came 
with the force of a blow. 

Marry Eliza Jubbins ! — become stepfather 
to the young Jubbinses ! — son-in-law to clever, 



ELIZA JUBBINS. 163 

manoeuvring Mrs. Higgs ! Settle down for 
the term of his natural life among the 
Bloomsbury connection — go voluntarily into 
the penal servitude of eating, drinking, 
sleeping, thinking, visiting, with a class he 
knew he could never really care for, seemed 
to this man too dreadful a doom to hear 
mentioned by another. 

Nevertheless, he did not say " No." Long 
experience of his father had taught him 
the wisest policy in all family games was 
to play not trumps, but the most insignifi- 
cant and inoffensive card he could find in 
his hand. 

One of those he threw out now. 

" It is early days to talk of anything 
of that sort," he objected. " She has not 
been a widow much more than a year, 
and her tears are not dry yet." 

" Dry them yourself, my boy, then," re- 
commended Mr. Gayre, with a chuckle of 
delight at finding Nicholas took his sug- 



12-2 



i64 S USAN BR UMMONB. 

gestion so coolly. " There is no time for 
winning a woman equal to that while her 
eyes are still wet. Besides, I feel sure 
she has a fondness for you. I am old, but 
I can see ; bless you, I have not lived all 
these years with my eyes shut." 

" That I am certain you have not, sir," 
repUed Nicholas, in a tone in which re- 
spect and a pleasant flattery were dex- 
terously blended. "Yet I must confess it 
seems to me premature to discuss such a 
matter." 

" Not in the least — not in the least. 
Jubbins has been dead over a twelvemonth." 
said the banker, practically " going into 
figures." 

"Still — to say nothing of my own ob- 
jections — I do not think Mrs. Jubbins would 
feel grateful if she knew we were already 
disposing of her in marriage." 

" There may be something in what you 
remark," agreed Mr. Gayre. " Spite of 



ELIZA -lUBBiyS. 165 

her excellent sense, Eliza was always a little 
given to sentimentality. We'll speak no 
more about the afiair, then, for the present ; 
only, Nicholas, you will promise me to 
think about it." 

" Yes, I will do that, on the condition 
that no word is dropped to Mrs. Jubbins. 
I must feel myself quite free ; for, to be 
quite plain, I do not beheve I shall ever 
marry." 

"That is simply nonsense, my son. 
You owe somethiug to your family. You 
are almost the last of the Gayres. John 
has no sons ; we have not even a distant 
relation of our own name. If you do not 
marry, and have children, who is to carry 
on the business ? " 

Mr. Nicholas made no reply to a ques- 
tion his father evidently considered crush- 
ino" ; but he thought two things — one, that 
the future might safely be left to look 
after its own affairs ; and another, that if 



1 66 



SUSAN BEUMMOND. 



things went on in Lombard Street as they 
were going, at the end of another thirty 
years they would be no business called 
Gayres' to carry on. 




CHAPTEE YII 



WILL HE PROPOSE? 



'T was to the house in Brunswick 
Square, which had for years been 
tenanted by the Jubbins', that Mr. Gayre 
repaired on the afternoon following his 
visit to .Chislehurst. Opinion in Blooms- 
bury was divided as to whether the banker 
had proposed to the widow and been 
rejected, or was still making up his mind 
to put the momentous question. 

Concerning the first alternative, Mrs. 
Jubbins could have enlightened her friends ; 
but with regard to the second it was im- 
possible for her to say, even mentally, 
aught save "I hope and I fear." There 
were days when she hoped, and there were 



1 68 >S US AN DR UMMOND. 

days when she feared ; yet as months and 
years ghded away, she grew very sick with 
" hope deferred." She beheved the man, 
the only man she had ever truly loved with 
the one love of a woman's heart, would 
some day ask her to be his wife ; never- 
theless, she did not quite understand him; 
surely that wound, which had changed the 
frank, brilliant, charming youth into a still 
more interesting, if less comprehensible, 
man, ought to have been healed long 
ago ? 

Mrs. Jubbins had some reason for believing 
he meant to marry her. Old Mr. Gayre, 
keeping to the letter of his promise, if not 
to the spirit, confided to Mrs. Higgs that 
" my son Nicholas was thinking seriously 
of her daughter, and he, Mr. Gayre, should 
feel glad if the young man proposed, and 
Mrs. Jubbins accepted him." To Mrs. 
Higgs, the idea of her daughter wedding 
into the Gayres seemed a thing almost too 



WILL HE PROPOSE! 169 

good to realise, and in her exultation at 
the suggestion she forgot to maintain that 
reserve Mr. Gayre had stipulated on. So 
Eliza was given to understand Nicholas 
had intimated he meant to " think of her : " 
and Nicholas, like his father, fulfilling the 
mere letter of his promise, did for a whole 
year think of his old playfellow with an 
ever-increasing dislike towards the connec- 
tion. He did not want directly to cross 
his parent's wishes, but he felt to make 
Eliza Jubbins his wife would be to settle 
his own future in an utterly distasteful 
manner. 

He liked the lady well enough — but 
liking is not love — and though he knew 
her money would be of use, both to 
himself and the bank, those thousands, 
made out of oil, repelled rather than attracted 
him. Then there were the juvenile 
Jubbins — commonplace in mind and features, 
spoiled, delicate, antagonistic, to his per- 



1 70 S us AN DR UMMOND. 

liaps over-fastidious taste. Though the 
Bloomsbury world, or that other world quite 
away from Bloomsbury, with which he 
still kept up a friendly intercourse, did 
not suspect the fact, he had long outlived 
the old attachment Mrs. Higgs and her 
daughter often talked about with bated 
breath. 

He was single, not from any actual 
objection to the married state, or fancy 
for one especial fair, but simply because 
no woman calculated greatly to delight so 
stern and cynical a judge of the sex had 
crossed his path. Possibly he was looking 
for perfection. If so, he had certainly as 
yet not found it. Upon the other hand, 
seeing that mediocrity and common-place 
virtues are often supposed to form a very 
good embodiment of a higher ideal, it 
seemed really hard he could not please his 
father and delight Mrs. Higgs, and return 
Mrs. Jubbins' attachment and reward her 



WILL HE PROPOSE! 171 

constancy ; but all this appeared to Mr. 
Gayre impossible. The more he thought 
the matter over, the longer he contemplated 
himself hedged in by City notions, sur- 
rounded by a mere moneyed chque, tied 
to the apron-strings of Bloomsbury gen- 
tility — travelling life's road in company 
with the men he had to meet in business, 
and acting the part of a model stepfather 
to the Jubbins' brood — the more truly he 
felt that, putting all question of romance, 
or love, or the glamour which does encircle 
some women, totally aside, such a marriage 
was, for him, out of the question. 

At the end of a year from the time his 
father first broached the subject he was 
still " thinking the matter over ; " after 
which period all necessity for him to think 
about it ceased — his father died. 

For six months after that event, Mr. 
Nicholas Gayre, a wanderer here and there, 
debated what he should do with his life ; 



1 72 S USAN DB UMMOND. 

then all in a hurry he made up his mind ; 
sold the lease of the Brunswick Square 
house, took another in Upper Wimpole 
Street, removed the furniture, books, plate, 
and china left to him under his father's 
will, and, with the help of three old ser- 
vants, soon found himself much more at 
home than had ever been the case since 
he left the army and took to banking. 

It was about this time Mrs. Jubbins' 
hopes revived. During the period when, 
according to his father's desire, he had 
been thinking of the widow as his future 
wife, Mr. Nicholas Gayre's manners became 
quite unconsciously cold and distant to 
the constant Eliza. Now no longer bound 
by his father's old-world notions ; free from 
the Bloomsbury servitude, wherein he had 
duly fulfilled his term ; free to think and 
talk of other things besides money, and 
stocks, and investments, and commercial 
imprudence, and mercantile success ; free. 



WILL HE PROPOSE! 173 

further, to marry whom he chose, or no 
one at all, Mr. Gayre grew quite amiable, 
and fell easily back into the familiar, though 
not close, intimacy which had marked his 
intercourse with the Jubbins family after 
his return from soldiering. 

As a matter of course, the good-looking 
Eliza took it for granted he would step 
into his father's place as adviser-in-chief 
concerning the Jubbins property. 

The title-deeds, the scrip of all sorts, 
the • shares, the trade secrets, were under 
lock and key in Gayres' strong-room. At 
Gayres' Mrs. Jubbins continued the account 
her husband formerly kept there. Had he 
felt curious about the matter, Mr. Nicholas 
Gayre might have ascertained almost to a 
penny what she spent, and how she spent 
it. There was nothing which pleased the 
lady so much as getting into a muddle, 
and being compelled to ask Mr. Gayre to 
help her out of it. 



1 74 -S USAX BE UMMOXD. 

She made mountains of mole-hills in order 
to write notes to him, and, herself a most 
excellent manager and capital Avoman of 
business, tried to pass for one of the most 
incompetent of her sex. Mrs. Higgs died, 
and then, of course, Mrs. Jubbins needed 
advice more than ever. Two of her young 
people, spite of money and doctors and 
care, and everything which could be thought 
of to restore them to health, drooped and 
died. All these events retarded Mr. Gayre's 
proposal, no doubt ; still, there were times 
when Mrs. Jubbins doubted whether he 
ever meant to propose. Had she known 
as much of the world as Nicholas, she 
would have understood friendliness is the 
worst possible symptom where a man's 
heart is concerned. Mr. Gayre had as 
much intention of proposing for one of 
the princesses as for the widow. Prepos- 
terous as the idea seemed in his father's 
life-time, it seemed trebly preposterous now. 



WILL HE PROPOSED 175 

He did not exactly know what slie expected, 
though indeed he guessed ; but he had 
long before made up his own mind that, 
so far as he was concerned, Mrs. Jubbins 
should remain ^Irs. Jubbins till the end 
of the chapter. 

A longer interval than usual had elapsed 
without his seeing her, when he turned his 
steps in the direction of Brunswick Square. 
As he approached the familiar door Mr. 
Grayre surveyed Mrs. Jubbins' residence with 
an amount of interest and curiosity he had 
never before experienced, and he certainly 
felt a sensation of pleasure at the sight of 
windows clear as whiting and chamois and 
that other commodity, better than either, 
vulgarly called "elbow-grease," could make 
them, enamelled boxes filled with flowers 
on the sills, curtains white as the driven 
snow and of the best quality money could 
buy, spotless steps, polished knocker, and 
all those little et-ceteras which point to 



1 76 S us Ay DR UMMOXD. 

money, good servants, and a capable 
mistress. 

"It is not Onslow Square, certainly," 
thought Mr. Gayre, " but we will see what 
we can do with it." 

" Now, this is really kind of you ! " 
exclaimed Mrs. Jubbins — a handsome and 
well-preserved woman on the right side of 
forty — stretching out a white plump hand 
in greeting. "You see, I am still unable to 
move," she added, with a laugh which 
showed an exceedingly good set of teeth, 
pointing as she spoke to a stool over which 
a couvre-pieds was thrown, in the modestest 
manner possible. "Why, it is quite an age 
since you have been here !" 

"Yes, indeed," he answered, in his suave 
decisive manner — " almost three months. 
I fear you have been suffering much 
anxiety. Why did you not send for me 
sooner ? " 

" Well," she began to explain — " well — " 



JVILL HE PROPOSED 177 

Then, after a pause, " I know you must 
have so many engagements." 

" None," he answered, '• believe me, that 
could ever keep me absent if you said 
you needed my poor services." 

Mrs. Jubbins had been a bold child, but 
she was not a forward woman. Quite the 
contrary. Supposing she could have won 
Mr. Gayre by saying, " Will you marry 
me ?" he must have remained unwon for 
ever, and for this reason she did not take 
advantage of his pretty speech, but merely 
inclined her sleek head in acknowledgment, 
as she asked, 

"Have you been able to go to Chisle- 
hurst?" 

"Yes," he said. "And The Warren is a 
most lovely place." 

" Which you would advise me to take ?" 

" If you really wish to go out of town 
for the summer, certainly." 

" Tell me all about it, please ;" and the 

Vol. i. 13 



1 78 S USAN BR UMMOND. 

Jubbins relict leaned back on the sofa, 
crossed her hands, and closed her eyes. 

She was worth — heavens, ladies, how 
much was she not worth ? — and could 
consequently, even in the concentrated 
presence of Gayre, Delone, Eyles, and Co., 
lean back, cross her hands, and close her 
eyes to any extent she liked. 

Mr. Gayre looked at her not without ap- 
proval — looked at her comely face, her 
broad capable forehead, her straight well- 
defined brows, her wealth of hair — not 
combed over frizettes, a fashion then still 
much in favour, but taken straight off her 
face to the back of a shapely, if somewhat 
large head, and there wound round and 
round in great plaits almost too thick and 
long even for the eye of faith. 

Such hair — such splendid hair — as Mrs. 
Jubbins possessed, quite of her own and 
altogether without purchase, belongs to 
few women. 



WILL HE PROPOSE! 179 

Mr. Gayre knew it to be perfectly 
natural. He had been well acquainted 
with it in his youth, and in his experienced 
middle age he could have detected a single 
false lock ; but there was nothing false 
about Mrs. Jubbins. All she had was as 
genuine as her money, as the Spanish 
mahogany furniture which had belonged to 
her husband's grandfather. 

" The Warren," proceeded Mr. Gayre, " is 
simply charming. A cottage in a wood ; 
but such a cottage, and such a wood! 
Lord Flint, it seems, bought about twenty 
acres covered with trees, cleared a space 
on the top of the hill, and built a summer 
residence for his bride. Shortly afterwards 
he succeeded to the earldom ; but still 
spent some portion of each year at the 
cottage, laying money out freely on the 
house and grounds. He died last summer ; 
and as the widow does not now like the 
place — whether she liked it when her 

13-2 



I So S US Ay DB UMMONJ). 

husband was living, I cannot say — she 
wants to let it ; so there the house, fully 
furnished, stands empty for you to walk 
into, if you like." 

At the mention of a lord, Mrs. Jubbins, 
who dearly loved nobility, old or new, 
opened her eyes and assumed an upright 
attitude. 

" A place of that sort would be too 
grand and fine for me," she objected, in the 
tone of one who wished to be contradicted. 

"It is not at all grand," answered Mr. 
Gayre, " and the furniture is not fine. I 
daresay it cost a considerable sum of 
money ; but really everything looks as 
simple and homely as possible." And then 
he went on to talk of the gardens, and 
grounds, and terraces, and woods, finishing 
by remarking, " Though quite close to 
London, one might be a hundred miles 
away from town, the air is so pure and 
the silence so utter." 



WILL HE PEOPOSE? i8i 

For a few moments Mrs. Jubbins made 
no reply. Then she said, with a delighted 
little laugh, 

" Only fancy me hving in the house of 
a real lord — not a lord mayor, but a 
peer !" 

" It is a very nice house for any one 
to live in," observed ]\Ir. Gayre, wondering, 
if she rented the residence, how often in 
the course of a month she would mention 
Lord FHnt, and the Earl of Merioneth, 
and- her ladyship the Countess. 

"Who would beheve it!" exclaimed ^Irs. 
Jubbins. "And yet, do you know, I think 
I must have been dreaming of something 
of this sort. I have had the strangest 
thoughts lately. Whether it is this lovely 
weather following the long dreary winter, 
or being kept a prisoner by my ankle, or 
what, I am sure I cannot tell ; but often 
of late I have found myself wondering 
whether I was doing right in staying so 



1 82 S us AN BE UMMONB. 

mucli at home, and spending so little 
money, and making no new acquaintances, 
and continuing the same round from year's 
end to year's end, as though Brunswick 
Square were the world, and no other place 
on the face of the earth existed except 
Bloomsbury." 

Mr. Gayre smiled, and hazarded the re- 
mark that neither of them ought to 
speak against Bloomsbury. 

"No, that is quite true," agreed the 
lady ; " but yet, you see, you have gone 
west, and everybody else seems going 
west, or buying places out of town, 
except myself. The Browns have taken 
a house in Porchester Terrace, the Jones 
have gone to Bournemouth." 

"And the Eobinsons no doubt will fol- 
low suit," suggested Mr. Gayre, forgetful 
that Mrs. Jubbins' circle of friends did 
include a family of that name. 

"Yes, Mr. Eobinson is building himself 



WILL HE PROPOSEl 183 

quite a mansion down at Walton-on- 
Tliames, and they expect to be able to 
move in August. I tell her she won't 
like it — that there is no place on the 
Thames to equal London ; but they all 
seem eager to go ; after a time there will 
be nobody left in Bloomsbury but me ; " 
and Mrs, Jubbins sighed plaintively. 

"You will not be left if you take the 
Warren," said Mr. Gayre. 

"I can't stay at The Warren for ever," 
she answered ; "I shall have to come back 
here some day, unless — " 

"Unless what?" asked Mr. Gayre. 

" Unless I sell the lease of this house, 
and remove altogether. I really think 1 
ought to make some change. The children 
are growing up, and ought to be in a 
neighbourhood where they could form 
pleasant acquaintances. Bloomsbury is all 
well enough for elderly persons ; and the 
tradespeople are very good ; I don't think 



1 84 S us AN jDR UMMOND. 

you could get better meat anywhere than 
Grist supplies ; and though Ida is not 
strong, I fancy that is only natural 
delicacy, and has nothing to do with the 
air. But still—" 

" If I were you," interrupted Mr. Gayre, 
who always waxed impatient under details 
that had seemed both instructive and 
agreeable to his father, " I should take 
this Chislehurst place for a year ; at the 
end of that time you could decide 
whether it would be best to return here, 
or remain on there, or buy a house at 
the West End. What lovely flowers ! How 
they transform this dear old room ! It 
looks quite gay and bright — ." 

" They make a dreadful litter," remarked 
Mrs. Jubbins, who was a very Martha in 
household details, though to hear her talk 
at times any one might have supposed 
Mrs. Hemans took a healthy and lively 
view of life in comparison with the 



WILL HE PBOPOSE? 185 

buxom Eliza — " but they certainly do light 
up a house. The day before I sprained 
my ankle I went over to Porchester Ter- 
race, and, dear me, I thought what a 
difference between the West End and 
Bloomsbury ! When I came back our 
square seemed quite dingy ; so I told 
Hodkins to arrange with some nurseryman 
to keep me supplied with plants. At first 
it did seem a dreadful waste of money, 
and I could not help wondering what 
your poor father would have said to such 
extravagance ; but there, the world goes 
on, and one can't stand still and be left 
all behind, can one ? " 

" Gracious Heavens ! " considered Mr. 
Gayre, " if I had married her I should 
have been compelled to hsten to this 
sort of thing all the days of my life ; " 
then he said aloud, " Talking of my father, 
I want you to grant me a favour ; will 
you?^' 



1 86 S US AN DR UMMOND. 

" Certainly ; need you ask ? What is 
it ? " And then Mrs. Jubbins paused ab- 
ruptly, as the notion occurred to her 
that perhaps the long-deferred hour was 
at last on the point of striking. 

But Mr. Gayre's next words dispelled 
the illusion. 

" You remember Margaret ? " 

Hot and swift the tell-tale blood rushed 
up into Mrs. Jubbins' face, and as she 
said, " Yes, is she in London ? " a duller, 
but not less painful, colour mantled Mr. 
Gayre's brow. 

"I do not suppose Margaret will ever 
come to London," he answered ; " but her 
daughter is here, and I should consider 
it a great kindness if you would pay the 
girl a little attention. You l^now — or pos- 
sibly you do not know — what a miserable, 
hopeless, irreclaimable sinner the father is. 
His own relations have cut him adrift : 
mine will have nothing to do with him ; 



WILL HE PBOPOSE? 187 

consequently, through no fault of her own, 
my niece is, by both sides of the house, . 
left out in the cold. I should like her 
to be intimate with a good sensible woman 
such as you are ; but perhaps I am ask- 
iuCT too much." 

"Too much! I shall be enchanted to 
do anything in my power for Margaret's 
daughter. Is she like her mother, poor 
dear Margaret ? " 

"My sister was pretty," answered Mr. 
Gayre, with a feeling of deep gratitude 
swelling in his heart for the friendly 
warmth of Mrs. Jubbins' manner. " My 
niece is beautiful. Her face does not 
seem so sweet to me as Margaret's ; but 
most persons would admire it far more. 
She is, in fact, so beautiful, so lovely, 
and placed in such a painful and excep- 
tional position, that I shall not know 
a moment's peace till she is suitably 
married." 



1 88 S US AN BR UMMONJ). 

" Dear, dear ! " exclaimed Mrs. Jubbins ; 
" I would go to her this moment if it 
were not for this tiresome ankle. Could 
she not come to me, though, Mr. Gayre? 
I am such an old friend of your family, 
she might dispense with ceremony, and let 
us make acquaintance at once. If she 
spent a few days here, for instance, and 
then supposing I were to take Lady Merio- 
neth's house, that would make a little 
change for her." 

" You are the kindest person in the 
world," said Mr. Gayre, with conviction. 

" No, indeed I am not ; only think, 
you know, if it were one of my own 
daughters. I am sure I quite long to see 
the dear girl. Wliat a thing for poor 
Margaret to be parted from her only 
chHd ! " 

"My niece believes her mother is dead, 
and there seems to me no necessity to 
enlighten her." 



WILL HE PBOPOSE? 189 

" Ah ! that makes it all the worse. 
When I remember — when I look back, 
and recall her lovely face framed in those 
sunny curls — " 

"Looking back is worse than useless," 
interrupted Mr. Gayre, speaking hoarsely. 
" We cannot undo the past ; the best 
plan is to act as prudently as possible in 
the present. That is why I ask your 
help — why I want you to look a little 
after the child of my unhappy sister." 

"And that I will," declared Mrs. Jub- 
bins, heartily, " It will be like having a 
daughter given to me in the place of 
my darling Clara ; a daughter to think 
and plan for and love. How I long to 
see her ! When do you think she can 
come here ? Will you bring her? — or 
shall I send a fly and Hodkins? You 
know he really is a most superior and 
respectable person." 

This time Mr. Gayre forgot to smile 



1 90 S us AN DB UMMOND. 

at Mrs. Jubbins' singular way of putting 
things. 

" I will arrange the visit with my niece," 
he said, " and give you due notice when 
you may expect to see us. I am a bad 
hand at returning thanks; but I feel your 
kindness more than I can express." 

" It is nothing," she answered vehemently, 
" nothing at all ; it is I who am obliged. All 
my life I have been receiving favours from 
your family, and doing nothing in return. 
You have made me so very happy. I wonder 
if you would mind my consulting you con- 
cerning another little matter I could not 
avoid thinking about while tied to this 
sofa?" 

"I am all attention," Mr. Gayre declared. 
" What is this matter ? Are you thinking of 
setting up a carriage ? " 

"Well, you must be a wizard!" exclaimed 
Mrs. Jubbins. " Do you know, often lately 
I have been wondering whether my poor 



WILL HE PROPOSE? 191 

husband and your dear father would think 
a single brougham and a very plain livery 
too great an extravagance. You see things 
have changed so much during the course 
of the last few years. There was a time 
when all one's friends lived close at hand; 
but now one must have a fly to pay visits ; 
and really a carriage and coachman of one's 
own would not cost so very much more." 

"My dear Mrs. Jubbins," said Mr. Gayre, 
"you talk as if you had to economise upon 
five hundred a year instead of being obhged 
to starve on fifteen thousand." 

" Yes," she answered ; " but there are the 
children, and I do so want to be a faithful 
steward, Mr. Gayre, and justify the trust re- 
posed in me. Yet there are two sides to the 
question, I am sure. Our fathers moved with 
their times, and, as a mother, I ought to move 
with mine ; and that brings me to what I 
wished to say — not about the carriage, it can 
wait ; but — '.' 



192 SUSAN DRUMMONB. 



" Yes ? " said Mr. Gayre, interrogatively. 
"You must promise not to laugh at 



me." 



" I am very sure I shall not laugh at what 
you say." 

"Well, then I have been thinking most 
seriously whether, if I take a house out of 
town — and the doctor says I must — it would 
not be a good opportunity for changing my 



name." 



" / heg your pardon ! " 

No italics could indicate the astonishment 
expressed in Mr. Gayre's tone. 

" Are you thinking of marrying again ? " 
he went on — severely, as the widow imagined, 
but really in a mere maze of bewilderment. 

"No — no," she said, hurriedly. "It is 
not likely I shall ever marry again---I am 
certain I never shall ; but I cannot blind 
myself to the fact that the name of Jubbins 
is in many ways a bar socially. Put it to 
yourself, Mr. Gayre — Jubbins ! Awful ! All 



WILL HE PBOPOSE? 193 

the years I have borne it have never recon- 
ciled me to the name. Higgs was not beau- 
tiful, but Jubbins is worse." 

" ' A rose by any other name would smell 
as sweet,' " quoted Mr. Gayre, resolutely re- 
fraining even from smiling. 

"Not if it was called Jubbins," answered 
the lady almost tearfully. 

" Yes, it would," persisted the banker ; 
" but whether or no, there are for the pre- 
sent, at all events, good and sufficient reasons 
why your late husband's known and honest 
name should be preserved. As you are 
aware, the formulae for making those won- 
derful oils lie at our bank. When your sons 
come of age they will want to make use of 
them. The name is associated with the pro- 
duct. It is of pecuniary value. The De 
Yere Oil, for example, would not command 
any market. I have always admired many 
traits in your character, but none more than 
your excellent feehng. Give that fair play 

Vol. i. 14 



1 94 >S US AN BE UMMOND. 

now. Just think what the name you bear 
has done for you." 

" I know — I know." 

" And do consider that, although you have 
an undoubted right at any moment to change 
your own name by marriage, you really have 
no right to change the name of jour chil- 
dren." 

" Mr. Gayre, how good and clever you 
are ! How clear you make everything ! " 

"And speaking for myself," added the 
banker, warming to the subject, " I can only 
say that, though I liked ]\Iiss Higgs much, 
I like Mrs. Jubbins more." 

" You are kind ! " exclaimed the widow, 
while the colour once more fluttered in her 
face, and, spite of her declaration that she 
would never marry again, she began to con- 
sider such an event not quite impossible. 
" What, must you go ? Well, you have given 
me a great deal of your valuable time, and I 
am very grateful to you." 



IVILL HE PBOPOSE? 195 

She could not rise on account of that 
troublesome ankle, and, as Mr. Gay re held 
her hand while he spoke some words of 
thanks, he was obliged to stoop a little, and 
— unconsciously perhaps — fell into an almost 
tender attitude. 

Mrs. Jubbins' heart beat so fast and so 
loud, she felt afraid he would hear it. The 
long-expected declaration must surely be 
hovering on his lips ! 

That was a supreme moment. Xever 
before had he retained her hand so long ; 
on the contrary, he had ever previously held 
it as short a time as possible. Xever had he 
before regarded her with a look of such ad- 
miration; never had his lone been so low, 
or his words so earnest, or — 

Just then a tremendous double knock — pro- 
longed, ear-splitting, infuriating — resounded 
through the house. Was ever knock before 
so unexpected and so loud ? Mrs. Jubbins 
gave a start, which almost threw her oH" the 

14—2 



1 96 S us Ay BR UMMOND. 

sofa. Mr. Gayre dropped her hand as if he 
had been shot. 

And, after all, it was no one coming up ; 
only Mrs. Eobinson's card, and kind inquiries 
after dear Mrs. Jubbins' ankle. Mr. Gayre 
saw that card lying on a salver as he passed 
out, excellently contented with his afternoon's 
work, but, upon the whole, not quite so well 
satisfied with himself. 






CHAPTEE Yin. 

FATHER, DAUGHTER, UXCLE. 

your Father at home, Margaret ? " 
It was Mr. Gayre who asked this 
question. He had gone straight from Bruns- 
wick Square to Xorth Bank, debating that 
matter of his own conduct all the way. 

When he left the City he fully intended 
to have " a few words " with his niece ; but 
he did not feel his own hands quite clean 
enough at the minute to cast stones at her, 
and accordingly would have deferred the 
operation till a more convenient season but 
for the action taken by the young lady 
herself. 

" Yes ; papa has not gone out yet," she 
said, in answer to his inquiry. " I will tell 



1 98 *S USA^' DR UMMOND. 

him you are here ;" and she left the room, 
but, changing her mind, returned almost im- 
mediately, and, closing the door, observed, 
with a confusion which for once was not 
feigned, 

" I want to say something to you, uncle." 

" Say on then, my niece," he returned. 

But she hesitated, looking at him piteously 
for help, till at last he felt compelled to ask, 

"Well, what is it?" 

" Can't you guess ? " 

" Whether I can or not, I decline to do 
anything of the sort. Come, say what you 
have got to say, and let us be done with 
the matter." 

"It is — about — Susan Drummond." 

"Yes; what about her?" 

For one moment Miss Chelston doubted 
whether he remembered, and lamented her 
own folly in not letting a sleeping dog lie ; 
but the next she felt sure he could not 
have forgotten, and said. 



FATHER, DAUGHTER, US CLE. 199 

"You must have thought it so odd that 
I did not tell papa I had seen her." 

" Did I ? Xo, I do not think I did. 1 
'vonder now why you told him such an 
untruth ; but I presume you had some 
leason, good or bad, for not wishing him 
to know." 

"I was wrong," she confessed, in a tone 
of the deepest humihty ; " but indeed I 
acted from the very best motives." 

" It would be interesting to know what 
those motives were ; but I suppose you 
won't tell me." 

" yes, indeed — indeed I will ; I have 
been longing to tell you. Susan and I are 
the oldest and dearest of friends — I may 
say ■ she is the only friend I have ni all 
the wide world. I understand her perfectly : 
and the reason I did not want papa to sus- 
pect she was in London — " 

" Out with it," advised Mr. Gayre. 

"Well, you see, at the time I thought 



200 SUSAN DBUMMOND. 

things would be different here. Papa told 
me we should have a great deal of com- 
pany, and that I would be asked out to 
parties and — and — all that sort of thing; 
and I knew, since her uncle's death, poor 
dear Susan could not afford to dress — as — 
as people have to dress if they go into 
society ; and I thought asking her to come 
to us would only vex and place her in a 
false position." 

"Anything else?" suggested Mr. Gayre. 

" Yes ; but you must not be vexed witli 
me. I do hate riding, and I was sure papa 
would be wanting me to go out with Susan; 
and I dare not — 0, I dare not ! That 
horse you so much admired almost fright- 
ened me to death." 

"You are quite sure you have nothing 
more to tell me ? " said Mr. Gayre, as she 
came to a full stop. 

" Quite sure — quite sure, indeed." 

Mr. Gayre looked her over with an 



FATHER, DAUGHTER, UXCLE. 201 

amused smile. She did not lift her eyes to 
his, but stood Avith them cast penitently 
downwards, waiting for any comments he 
might have to make. 

" I think," he began at last, " there is 
some truth in what you have just been 
saying, but I fancy there is not much. 
Now let me give you a little advice. Don't 
try to hoodwink me. In the first place, 
it is a mere waste of time ; and in the 
second, you will find it to your advantage 
to work with, instead of against, me. All 
I desire is your good. You are placed 
in a most difficult and exceptional position, 
and you have not so many friends you 
can afford to quarrel with any of them, 
more especiaUy a girl like Miss Drum- 
mond." 

"Quarrel, uncle! I wouldn't quarrel with 
Susan for all the world ; but how could 
I know living in London would turn out 
so different from what I expected — so 



202 S US AN BR UMMOXD. 

miserable ? " ended Miss Chelston, with a 
gasping sob. 

"You expected, perhaps, to be pre- 
sented at Court?" hinted Mr. Gayre, with 
bitter irony. 

"I did not think it was at all impos- 
sible," she answered. 

"And what do you think now?" he 
asked. 

" That I have been very silly ; and 0, 
it's all such a dreadful disappointment ! " 
and, covering her face with her hands, 
she left the room fairly in tears. 

"It is hard on the girl," thought Mr. 
Gayre, " and why should I have expected 
straightforwardness from her ? The father 
does not know the meaning of the word ; 
the mother was a poor weak timid fool ; 
and I — well, my friend, I don't consider 
you have much reason to be proud of 
yourself." 

" So you have sent Peggy off crying," 



FATHER, DAUGHTER, UNCLE. 203 

said the Baronet cheerfully, opening the 
door at this juncture; "I am very glad 
of it. Hope you gave her a good scold- 
ing. As I told her yesterday — for I had 
an appointment after I got back from 
Enfield the other day, and was not home 
till long after she had gone to bed — as 
I told her, there is nothing in the world 
I detest like a falsehood. Let a man or 
a woman only speak the truth, and I 
do not much care how bad he or she 
may be in other respects, though no one 
who does speak the truth can be very 
bad." 

"I think we may let the affair rest 
now," remarked Mr. Gayre. "More par- 
ticularly as Miss Drummond ought never 
to know Margaret's silence was other 
than a piece of carelessness. It will be 
a great matter for your daughter to have 
so nice a friend staying with her. Have 
you settled when she is to come ? " 



204 S US AN BE UMMOND. 

" Yes. Peg wrote her as pretty a note 
yesterday as you'd wish to read. 0, she 
was humble enough, 1 can tell you. It's 
not often I do come the stern parent 
business, but I did speak out. I said, 
" If you think because Susan has only 
got a poor couple of thousand pounds 
she is not as welcome to my house as 
though she had millions, you are very 
much mistaken, that's all. I'm sorely afraid, 
Peggy," I went on, " you're an arrant 
little snob ; and you don't inherit that 
failing from me any more than your want 
of candour. No one can say I ever held 
myself aloof from any man because he 
was not rich or well-born. What's the 
use of being well-born if one can't shake 
hands with a beggar ? No, that girl of 
mine wants taking down. She does think 
so confoundedly much of herself." 

" It seems to me she has been taken 
down a great deal," observed Mr. Gayre. 



FATHEE, DAUGHTEE, UNCLE. 205 

" She evidently came to London expecting 
to carry all before her ; and, spite of 
your agreeable manners and large circle 
of desirable acquaintances, she finds her- 
self alone in a great city, without a soul 
to speak to. However," added Mr. Gayre 
hurriedly, to prevent his brother-in-law 
once again taking up his parable, " I 
have at last succeeded in getting her one 
invitation, which I hope will lead to more. 
As we can't induce rank to notice her, 
I determined to try money. Mrs. Jubbins 
of Brunswick Square, a lad}^ I have known 
all my life, will be delighted to do any- 
thing and everything she can for Margaret." 

" Come, that's encouraging," exclaimed 
the Baronet, "though Jubbins does not 
exactly seem a name one would find in 
Burke, and Brunswick Square is a little 
—eh?" 

" If you mean that it is not Belgravia,. 
you are right ! but as no duchess has 



2o6 S US AN DR UMMOND. 

rushed forward to chaperone your daughter, 
it may be prudent to try and make the 
best of rich respectability." 

" Why, my dear fellow, how you talk ! 
Any one, to hear the way you go on, 
might imagine I was particular ! Thank 
God, I am no such thing ! I do not 
worship rank or money. And so your 
friends are very rich. What is the hus- 
band?" 

" I don't know what he may be at 
present ; he is dead ; he was a most ex- 
cellent person when living." 

" Widow ! Bless me, why don't you 
make up to her, Gayre ? " 

"Well, there are several reasons. One, 
however, may seem sufficient. She says 
she is not going to marry again." 

" Pooh ! " commented Sir Geoffrey, with 
an airy incredulity. 

" At all events, she has let seven years 
pass without making a second choice." 



FATHER, DAUGHTER, US CLE. 207 

" The right man has not asked her," 
remarked the Baronet, with decision ; and 
he shook his head with such emphasis 
that Mr. Gayre knew he was thinking if 
his wife " gave him a chance," and the 
fortune proved sufficient, he himself woukl 
attempt Mrs. Jubbins' conversion, and with 
brilhant success. 

" She is a truly admirable woman in 
every relation of life," said Mr. Gayre. 

"I am thankful to hear it — most 
thankful," answered Sir Geoffrey, solemnly. 
" What a fortunate fellow you are, Gayre, 
not to be saddled with the responsibility 
of a daughter! I declare the future of 
mine is getting to be a nightmare to me. 
What on earth would become of poor 
Peggy if I died?" 

" It is extremely difficult to say," 
observed Mr. Gayre, too wise to be 
entrapped into any promise by his simple 
brother-in-law. 



2o8 SUSAN DRUMMOND. 

" And we must all die," pursued the 
Baronet, tentatively. 

" So it is said ; but there is no rule 
without an exception, and you may prove 
that exception." 

Sir Geoffrey digested this remark, and, 
deciding he would not make much out of 
Mr. Gayre on such a tack, said, in a frank 
sort of manner, as if the idea had only just 
occurred to him, 

"I really don't know that I should object 
to a City man as a husband for my girl if 
he could insure her a proper establishment." 

" It is extremely good and wise of you 
to say so." 

" You see I can give her no fortune." 

" And, as a rule, money expects money 
nowadays." 

"Upon the other hand," proceeded Sir 
Geoffrey, " she is my daughter." 

" So she is ; that is a great advantage," 
said Mr. Gayre. 



FATHEB, DAUGBTEE, VSCLE. 209 

For a moment it occurred to the Baronet 
that his brother-in-law was openly gibing at 
him ; but looking sharply up, he could see 
no hint of laughter in the calm, cold face. 

"And a title must always carry a certain 
weight," he ventured. 

"But your daughter has no title, and as 
for yours — knights and baronets have in 
the City become somewhat of drugs in the 
market. What can Margaret, without a 
penny of dowry, do for any man ? You 
have no property left for him to talk 
about. Your daughter has no social stand- 
ing ; she possesses the manners of a gentle- 
woman, I admit, and is extremely good- 
looking. Nevertheless — " 

" For Heaven's sake, Gayre, don't make 
me more wretched than I am ! It was my 
misfortune, not my fault, I did not marry 
into my own rank of life, in which case 
my relations must have seen to the girl. 
But as matters stand — " 

Vol. i. 15 



210 5 US AN DR UMMOND. 

" I think, Sir Geoffrey, I will wish you 
' good- afternoon,' " interposed Mr. Ga3n:-e, 
rising in hot wrath, and striding across the 
small room to the door, with the almost 
forgotten military gait. 

But ere he reached it, Sir Geoffrey caught 
him. 

" My dear, dear Gayre — " he began : and 
then, as his dear Gayre wrenched himself 
from his detaining grasp, and reached the 
hall, the Baronet, once again seizing his 
sleeve, went on, " You have misunderstood 
me, quite." 

Mr. Gayre, however, was not so easily to 
to be appeased. Standing in the middle of 
the gravelled path, sheltered from the 
vulgar gaze by that high wall already 
mentioned, he delivered his parable. He 
rehearsed the righteous doings of the 
Gayres, and the sins of Sir Geoffrey. 

" Good God ! " he cried, and certainly, 
as a rule, Mr. Gayre was no profane 



FATHER. DAUGHTER, UXCLE. 211 

swearer, " if my father had Hkecl he could 
have given you seven years' penal servi- 
tude over that matter of my sister's settle- 
ment. But he refrained ; and yet now you 
talk as if you had made a mesalliance by 
entering a family able to trace a longer 
pedigree than your own." 

Through a little pantry-window, almost 
screened from the sight of visitors by a 
goodly arbor vitce. Lavender watched the 
progress of this wordy war, saw Mr. Gayre's 
impatient and angry movement, and his 
master's deprecating gestures, and the 
humble and almost cringing servility of 
his manner. 

" Sir Geoffrey's gone and done it now," 
he considered. " Ah ! I knew it was too 
good to last. He'll be off in a minute 
more, and I suppose we'll never set eyes 
on him here again." 

And indeed departure seemed imminent. 
Mr. Gayre had his hand on the lock of 

15—2 



212 S US AN BE UMMOND. 

the gate, and, spite of Sir Geoffrey's efforts 
to detain liim, was evidently bent on 
making his way into the road ; but just 
as he had turned the handle, and was on 
the eve of leaving Mr. Moreby's borrowed 
villa for ever, Margaret, her eyes still a 
little red, but her dress as usual perfect — 
Margaret, with one rose in her hair and 
another in her girdle, looking fair and 
fresh, and pathetically humble, came round 
the end of the house, and exclaiming, " 
uncle ! you won't go without a cup of tea," 
changed her own destiny as well as that 
of others. 

"You can't refuse A^?%" remarked Sir 
Geoffrey sotto voce. " Upon my soul and 
honour, you took quite a wrong meaning 
out of what I said ; and hang it, whatever 
I may be, she's your sister's child." 

" Have you two been quarrelling ? " asked 
Miss Chelston, in quick alarm. "Don't do 
that, don't — just, too, when I had made up 



FATHEE, DAVGHTEB. UXCLE. 213 

my mind to be so good and nice and 
sweet to you both and everybody. Uncle, 
you mustn't mind papa. Eeally he was 
quite unpleasant to me yesterday. Papa, 
uncle, is in a bad humour : he scolded me 
half-an-hour ago till I had to go upstairs 
and have a good cry by myseK. Xow 
come in to tea, both of you," she finished, 
with a pretty, imperious, and yet caressing 
air which became her wonderfully, and 
caused Mr. Gayre to consider, " After all, 
something may be made of her." 

" Come," she repeated, taking Mr. Gayre's 
arm and leading him towards the house ; 
" and you may follow us, you bad man," 
she went on, addressing her father, who, 
for answer, put his fingers within the bit 
of black velvet she wore round her neck 
and gave it a twdst. 

Father and daughter did not exactly pull 
together, yet still, upon the whole, they 
understood each other pretty well. 



214 S US Ay DB UMMOXjD. 

Though the tea was lukewarm and ex- 
tremely bad Mr. Gayre swallowed one cup, 
exactly as he would have with some wild 
Indian smoked a pipe of peace. Sir Geoffrey 
refrained from partaking of the beverage 
offered for delectation, remarking his " liver 
wouldn't stand it," which, considering v\'hat 
he forced his liver to stand, seemed on the 
part of that organ an extraordinary act of 
rebellion ; but he was orood enouo-h to £^o 
into the dining-room, and prepare a brew 
for himself that did not err on the side of 
weakness. This he drank a good deal faster 
than Mr. Gayre did his tea, while he drank 
communicating the good news of Mrs. 
Jubbins' invitation to his daughter, telling 
that young person she could never suffi- 
ciently prove her gratitude to the best of 
uncles, and, durino- the course of the con- 
versation which ensued, artlessly inducing 
his brother-in-law to state many iacts in 
connecticm with the state of the Jubbins' 



FATHEB, DAUGHTEE, UXCLE. 215 

finances he had not thought of imparting 
previously. 

" By Jove, what a chance ! " considered 
the Baronet ; and then he proceeded to 
think, "if her ladyship would only be kind 
enough to quit a world she never reall}^ 
adorned, I'd have a try for that quarter 
of a million — buried in the earth, as one 
may say — and I'd get it, or else know the 
reason why." 

Which only proves that even baronets 
may be liable to error. Sir Geoffrey 
thoroughly understood the weakness of 
human nature, but most certainly he failed 
to estimate its strength. 






CHAPTER IX. 

SUSAlf. 

I^^EATED in his library — a room which, 
^^^ in a bachelor's establishment, ever 
seems the pleasantest and most comfortable 
in the house — ^Mr. Gayre, on the evening of 
that same day when he fought Sir Geoffrey 
on his own ground, and felt perhaps, 
ashamedly conscious of having led Mrs. 
Jubbins astray, or at least allowed her to 
stray, permitted his own soul the luxury of 
a day dream. During the course of his 
life he had not indulged in many ; and now 
and then a doubt would intrude as to 
whether anything could come of this vision, 
or if it would end like the others in grief and 
humiliation and disappointment. But in that 



SUSAN. 217 

quiet twilight hour doubt seemed exorcised. 
After all, why should happiness not be his? 
If in some things he had failed, in others 
he had succeeded ; in no respect could he 
be accounted an unfortunate man. The 
stars in their courses had not fought against 
him as they did against Sisera. ''I ought 
to have no quarrel with Fate," he thought, 
" for Fate has done a great deal for me ; 
and, perhaps," he went on, contemplating 
his air-castle with an eye of faith, '* she has 
been keeping the great blessing of a good 
pure wife for the last." 

Dreams, fair dreams ! Were they only, 
after all, to be dreams? Was his day to 
end in darkness, unillumined by the golden 
beams of a mutual love? Was life to hold 
nothing for him of the beauty and the 
glamour which only a woman can shed over 
it ? " Ah, no ! " he murmured ; and through 
the gloom it seemed to him that a figure, 
clad all in white, came gliding to his side ; 



2i8 SUSAN DEUMMOXJ). 

that a delicate hand lay clasped m his ; that 
a pair of tender brown eyes looked wist- 
fully in his face ; that a soft touch smoothed 
the coming wrinkles from his brow ; and that 
at last, tremblingly, he clasped to his heart 
the wife he had Avaited through the long 
lonely years to meet. 

Already he felt as if he must have 
known her always. They were strangers 
no more. He heard her speak, and her voice 
sounded familiar to him. She smiled, and 
the waters of his soul reflected back the 
pleasant sunshine. 

Had they, in some former and happier 
state of existence, wandered side by side 
through flower-decked meads and winding 
leafy lanes, it could not have seemed more 
natural to him than it did to find himself 
pacing the never before trodden fields of 
Enfield Highway, in which the mowers were 
busy with their scythes, filling the air with 
the delicious perfume of recently-cut grass. 



SUSAN. 219 

Her little tricks of manner and speech and 
look and movement struck bim witli no 
sense of novelty. 

" I must have been acquainted with Susan 
Drummond the whole of my life," he 
decided ; " that is to say, for a good many 
years before she was born." Her very name 
sounded to him accustomed; homelike seemed 
its simple melody. Susan — Susan — Susan — 
Susan Drummond, with her fair honest face ; 
with her hair, which was neither brown nor 
yellow nor red, but a marvellous mixture 
of all three ; with her exquisite complexion 
and sweet tender mouth — he recalled them 
all ; and yet each individual and to be par- 
ticularised beauty faded into nothingness 
beside the intangible and indefinable charm 
which had its source no man could tell 
where. 

Had she been smitten with smallpox, or 
lost a limb, or become suddenly old, Susan 
would have been Susan still. There are 



220 SUSAN DBUMMOND. 

women who retain, whether in youth or 
age, some subtle and inexplicable essence of 
womanliness as far beyond analysis as the 
scent of a rose. Whatever the fashion of 
the earthly tabernacle her soul inhabits, 
nevertheless from the windows of even the 
poorest habitation some passer-by catches the 
glimpse of a countenance never for ever to 
be forgotten. 

Mr. Gayre at all events felt he could 
not, while life lasted, forget riding along the 
Green Lanes and through Southgate, and 
thence, ^^ many devious roads, into Enfield 
Highway. 

" Are you quite sure where you're going, 
Gayre ? " asked his interesting brother-in-law 
Sir Geofirey, whom he had seduced into 
setting off on a wild-goose chase after a 
fellow who owned a wonderful hunter on 
the London side of Waltham. 

" JS'o, indeed, I am not," answered Mr. 
Gayre despondently ; " but I mean to in- 



SUSAX. 221 

quire about my man at each " public " we 
pass." 

Which performance, greatly to the 
Baronet's satisfaction, was gone through 
duly and truly with negative success, till 
the pair reached a certain hotel, noted in 
the old days, that still did a roaring trade 
by reason of excursionists to the Eye House 
and Broxbourne Gardens. 

"Does I know a gemman as owns a 
'ansome bay 'unter? Why, in course I 
does — Squire Temperley, of Temperley 
Manor. But, Lord love you, sir, it ain't of 
no manner of use riding on to see 'im ! 'E's 
been away — let's see — a matter of three week 
with the gout, which do nip him up sore." 

Mr. Gayre mused. It was not his fashion 
to rush into dialogue. 

" What sort of looking man is your 
Squire ? " he asked at length, while he 
slipped half-a-crown into his informant's 
hand. 



222 SUSAN DEUMMOND. 

" Well, sir, 'e's not unlike yourself in 
build and fio^ure, only 'eavier and a trifle 
more advanced in years " — Mr. Gayre 
winced ; " a very pleasant gemman, and 
most out-and-out rider ; didn't mind taking in 
'and any 'oss — got the most splendid 'unter 
to be seen in all these parts — a regular 
wild one ; no person can, to say, really ride 
'im but 'imself and young Mr. Arbery." 

"Young Mr. Arbery? Who is he? Not 
Squire Temperley's son, of course ? " 

^^^o^^ sir ; Mr. Arbery is the son of Mrs. 
Arbery, Granston 'Ouse, just above 'ere. 
'E's just back from the Australies, and we 
'aven't seen yet the 'orse could throw 'im." 

Having with a commendable pride finished 
which statement, the ostler, whose manners 
happened to be of a more free-and-easy 
description than obtained in Lombard Street, 
was good enough to " throw his eye over 
Mr. Ga}Te's steed," and remark " she was 
a tidy sort of beast, who I dessay can go." 



SUSAX 223 

"Well," asked Sir Geoffrey, coming out 
of the bar, where he had been taking some- 
thing " just for the good of the house," 
"have you dropped on your friend's track 

yet?" 

" Yes, I think so," answered 'Mr. Gayre ; 
and having received some further informa- 
tion on the exact position of Granston House, 
the pair departed, only walking their horses 
up the Great Xorth Eoad, but nevertheless 
eliciting an observation from the ostler that 
" he hoped he might be blanked if those 
gents didn't know something about riding." 

On they went past the church and into 
the older part of the village, which even so 
late as 1874 was little more than a mere 
straggling street. They had got into the 
region of a few unpretentious shops, when 
Mr. Gayre started so suddenly that his 
mare sprang forward with a bound which 
elicited a profane inquiry from Sir Geoffrey 
as to "what the ailed the brute." 



224 S US AX BR UMMOSB. 

His brother-in-law did not answer. Ap- 
parently he was devoting his whole attention 

to " the brute," but in reality his eyes 

were following two persons who chanced 
to be sauntering slowly along the footpath ; 
one was a lady wearing a white straw hat 
and pique dress of the same colour, both 
trimmed with black ribbon ; the other the 
young fellow he had seen in the Park. 

He had found his quarry, and yet, though 
He^^passed the pair so close that he could 
almost have laid his hand on Mr. Arbery's 
shoulder, he did not pull up and accost him. 

Shyness was a fault from which, as a 
rule, the banker might be considered per- 
fectly free ; but at that moment he felt it 
impossible even to tnrn his head in the 
direction of the very persons he had come 
to seek. 

Not so Sir Geoffrey. That woman must 
indeed have been old at whom he would 
have failed (to use his own expression) to 



SUSAX. 



225 



take a squint ; and, following his usual 
practice, he proceeded to honour with a 
hard stare a girl whom he had already de- 
cided possessed " a deuced good pair of 
ankles ; " then, 

" Lord bless my soul I " he exclaimed, in 
a tone loud enough for all the village to 
hear, "if it isn't Susan Drummond ! " and 
Mr. Gayre, at last looking back, beheld Sir 
Geoffrey standing in the middle of the road, 
with his horse's bridle slipped over his arm, 
shaking both Miss Drummond's hands, and 
expressing his delight and wonderment at 
meeting her in such an out-of-the-way place 
so volubly that he was well-nigh unintel- 
ligible. 

" Gayre, Gayre," he cried, " stop a minute 
— this is Susan ; Susan Drummond, you 
know. By Jove, who'd have thought of 
coming across her here ? Susan, this is 
my brother-in-law ; gad ! I never was so 
surprised in all the days of my life ! What 

Vol. 1. 16 



226 SUSAy DRUMMOND. 

in the world are you doing in Enfield High- 
way ? " 

Watching her, Mr. Gayre saw a shadow 
of disappointment creeping over her face, 
lit up the instant before with a delighted 
smile of pleasure. 

" Did not Maggie tell you I was here ? " 
she asked. 

" How should she know ? " demanded the 
Baronet. 

\^^' Why, I saw her one day in Hyde Park, 
about a month ago ; didn't she tell you ? " 
repeated the girl. 

" Not a word ; if she had you may be 
very sure I'd have been down here before 
now. I — " and Sir Geoffrey was about to 
plunge into the whole story of Peggy's 
statement that she did not know even the 
address of her old friend, when a look from 
Gayre arrested the words on his tongue. 

" You know what a careless forefetful 
baggage it is," he said, with great presence 



SUSAN. 227 

of mind, " and how much fonder she always 
was of telling things to other people than 
her own father ; however, now I've found 
you, I won't lose sight of you again ; you 
must come over and see Peg, and have all 
out with her. Come and pay us a long 
visit." 

But Susan made no answer except, " You 
are very kind, but you always were kind 
to me. Sir Geoffrey." 

"Papa Geoff," amended the Baronet. 
" Where are you stopping ? Who are you 
with? What are you doing? I am amazed. 
Who'd have thought of seeing you here ? " 

"There is nothing remarkable in seeing 
me here," she answered, " but it is astonish- 
ing to see you. I should just as soon 
have expected to see Chelston Church spire 
coming up Enfield Highway as you. What 
can have brought you to this part of the 
world?" 

"My brother-in-law wanted to find some 

16-2 



228 5 USAN BR UMMOKB. 

fellow about a hunter — ''' Sir Geoffrey was 
beginning, when Mr. Gayre interposed. 

"This is the very gentleman I wanted to 
see, I think," he said, looking towards Mr. 
Arbery, who had stepped into the back- 
ground. " As I did not know your name," 
he went on, speaking to Miss Drummond's 
companion, " we have had a great deal of 
trouble in finding out who you were and 
where you Hved." 

" Well, it's all right now, isn't it ? " ex- 
claimed Sir Geoffrey. " Susan, my dear, I 
am so glad we came ; you can't think how 
pleased I am to see you again." 

"This is my cousin, Mr. Arbery," she 
said, acknowledging the Baronet's hearty 
words with a smile which chased the 
shadows from her face ; and then, with a 
pretty grace, she introduced him to Mr. 
Gayre, which ceremony duly performed, 
they all walked on together to Grans ton 
House, where the young man said his 



susjy. 229 

mother would be delighted to see them. 
It is more than doubtful whether Mrs. 
Arbery was anything of the kind ; never- 
theless, she received the unexpected visitors 
with a good grace, and asked them to stop 
and take early dmner. 

" We always dine early," explained Will 
Arbery, " but you can call it luncheon ; " 
and then, while Sir Geoffrey was making 
himseK agreeable to Mrs. Arbery, Avhom 
he afterwards spoke of as " shaky — deucedly 
shaky," and Susan left the room, probably 
to add a few touches to the appointments 
of the dinner-table, Mr. Arbery and Mr. 
Gayre talked, not merely about Mr. Temper- 
ley's hunter, but other equine matters. 

At the meal to which they all subsequently 
sat down the conversation was general. It 
turned a good deal on Australia, and Mr. 
Arbery, who found much to say, and said 
it well, interested Mr. Gayre considerably 
withliis account of hfe on a great sheep-run. 



230 SUSAK DBUMMOXD. 

He had three brothers settled in Austraha, 
and one sister — all married. " So when I 
get back," he added, " there will be five 
of us out there, old married folks. If we 
could only induce my mother to come too, 
we should be as happy as possible." 

Mr. Gayre looked at Miss Drummond, 
who smiled amusedly in reply, while Mrs. 
Arbery said, "I shall never cross the sea," 
in a tone which told the banker this was a 
sore subject in the family. 

" But 'pon my soul," exclaimed Sir Geof- 
frey, " it seems to me a splendid idea. Why 
can't we all go ? What do you say, Susan — 
will you pack up and let us leave England 
together?" 

" Ko," she answered ; " like my aunt, I 
never mean to take so long a voyage." 

"I have asked her already, and she re- 
fused me," declared her cousin. 

" That is very true. Will," she said ; 
"but perhaps, if you had implored me to 



SUSAN. 231 

share the sheep-run instead of helping to 
catch wild horses, my answer might have 
been different." 

At which they all laughed — Mrs. Arbery 
a little sadly, Mr. Gayre with a sense of 
relief. Sir Geoffrey delighted to find his 
old favourite " as saucy as ever," and Will 
Arbery after the fashion of a person who 
felt himself fairly hit. 

" Xo, Susie, it wouldn't," he said, look- 
ing at her with fond, but merely cousinly, 
affection. *' You are far too much of a 
' bloated aristocrat ' for Austraha ; you like 
purple and fine linen, and servants, and 
regular meals, and nice furniture, and " 

" I like civihzation, if that is what you 
mean," she summed up. "I think a sheep- 
run in Cumberland or Wales, or even 
Ireland, might be all very well ; but I 
confess I should not care for it a thou- 
sand miles from a post-office." 

Hearing which declaration Mrs. Arbery 



232 S US AN DR UMMOND. 

sighed deeply, and Mr. Gayre drew his 
own conclusions. He understood there sat 
the wife Mrs. Arbery would have liked 
for her son, and he could not exactly 
understand why " cousin William " had 
elected to go further afield, till a few 
weeks afterwards, when Susan was good 
enough to enlighten him. 

" I don't fancy," she said, slyly, one day, 
" men usually fall in love with a woman 
because their mothers think the particular 
' she ' will make a good daughter-in- 
law." 

After dinner they went out on the lawn, 
which was perched high over the road, 
and where the whole "Way" might have 
watched them promenading had it chosen ; 
then they wound round the house to a 
pretty trim flower garden, laid out in the 
Dutch style, and from thence Susan, and 
Mr. Gayre, and Sir Geoffrey, and young 
Arbery strolled down the pleasant meadows, 



susAy. 233 

in which the grass was being cut and the 
hay being made. 

A stream bordered by pollards meandered 
at one side of the fields ; large Aylesbury 
ducks were disporting themselves in the 
water ; afar off, beyond the level marshes, 
rose the rising ground, near Sewardstone 
and Chingford ; there was a great silence 
in the air, and it seemed to Mr. Gayre as 
if suddenly he had left some old life of un- 
rest behind, and entered a land where 
trouble could not enter. 

Even Sir Geoffrey assumed quite a diffe- 
rent aspect sauntermg through those Elysian 
Fields with his hat off, discoursing learnedly 
with young Arbery about country affairs, or 
turning to speak to Susan as she and Mr. 
Gayre lagged behind. 

" You wouldn't like to jump that stream 
now, would you, Susie ? " he asked, as they 
came to a standstill at one particular bend 
of the river. 



234 S US AN BR UMMOND. 

" No," she laughed. " I do not feel so 
young as I did once, and besides, this is 
wider than the Chell even at the Pleasaunce." 

" I am not so sure of that," said the 
Baronet, surveying the sluggish water dubi- 
ously. "Well, perhaps you are right. Lord, 
Lord ! shall I ever forget that day when I 
was out in the Long Meadow looking at 
Lady Mary — do you remember that chest- 
nut filly, Sue? — the prettiest thing, the 
very prettiest! — seeing you come tearing 
down the green walk, Avith Lai Hilderton 
behind you, racing like two mad things ! I 
shouted out to you to mind the river ; but 
you just gathered your skirts about you 
and took it like a deer. Gad, I never saw 
a patch upon it before or since ! And, 
afterwards, you stood mocking Lai, he on 
one side, and you on t'other." 

" He did not follow, then ? " suggested 
Mr. Gayre. 

" If he had, he'd have pitched right in 



SUSAK. 235 

the middle of the water. Lai was no 
jumper." 

"Ah, but couldn't he pamt, Sir Geoffrey?" 
said Susan, with just the faintest mockery 
of an Irish accent as she uttered a com- 
pletely Irish sentence. 

•' Yes, certainly he was clever with his 
pencil," agreed Sir Geoffrey. 

"And who was this Mr. HildertonP" 
asked LIr. Gayre, feeling really he could 
contain himself no longer. 

" 0, an old neighbour," answered Susan 
carelessly. "He was intended for the Church, 
but preferred art and went to Eome to 
study. For the credit of Chelston, we hope 
he will be a great man yet. About three 
years ago he was good enough to come 
down to see us aborigines, and caused 
quite a sensation in a velvet suit and a 
red tie." 

"And all the ladies fell in love with 
him, I suppose ? " said Mr. Gayre bitterly. 



236 SUSAy BRUMMOND. 

" I think a great many did," agreed Miss 
Drummond. " He really is very handsome." 

What a strange girl ! — one who spoke 
of men and life and wooing and marrying 
as if she were seventy years of age ; who 
addressed the representative of Gayre, Delone, 
Gayre and Co. as though she had frisked and 
frolicked about Chelston Pleasaunce with 
him ! How frightfully easy were her man- 
ners ! — well, perhaps not so easy as in- 
different ; and 3'et — and yet who was the 
only woman that since that crazy fancy of 
his youth, had ever seemed winsome to him. 

Already he loved her distractedly ; already 
he felt, on the slightest provocation, madly 
jealous. The first six words she spoke had 
not disenchanted him — quite the contrary. 
She was different from the girl he expected 
—■stronger — a woman better worth loving 
and winning — a woman such as, in all his 
previous experience, he had never before 
met, and — 



SVSAK 237 

"I think, Gayre, we must be seeing now 
about getting back to town," said Sir 
Geoffrey, who, fond though he might be 
and was of Susan, fek the pastoral business, 
unenlivened by champagne and the hope of 
a dupe, wonderfully slow. 

To this proposal Mr. Gayre at once 
assented. He felt that, whatever his own 
wishes might be, he and the Baronet could 
not stay at Granston House for ever ; and 
accordingly, declining young Arbery's 
hospitable suggestion that they should stop 
and have tea, and ride home in the cool 
of the evening, it was finally settled their 
horses were to be saddled and taken to the 
back gate, where Susan undertook to pilot 
the visitors in ten minutes. 

" The back gate is really the carriage-gate 
here," she explained ; " only we have no 
carriage, and nothing in the stable, except 
a cow and a donkey." 

Killing that ten minutes — a process 



238 SUSAN DRUMMONB. 

which Sir Geoffrey thought occupied about 
ten hours — they paused beside a Marshal 
Niel which ran over the drawing-room win- 
dow. 

" Give me a rose, Susie," said the Baronet ; 
and then, as she compUed, added ; " Give 
Gayre one, too. Now," he went on, " you 
must fasten it in my coat, in memory of old 
times. What jolly little buttonholes you 
used to make up for me at Chelston ! Only 
look at Gayre — see what a mess he is making 
of the performance. Better let Susie take 
your rose in hand " 

Now, the fact was that Mr. Gayre had 
never in all his life worn a flower in his 
coat. Affecting a severe simplicity, he 
eschewed jewelry, perfumes, buttonholes, 
and every vanity of latter-day male life ; 
but not knowing what on earth to do with 
the rose Susan had given him, feeling he 
could not go about dangling it in his 
hand, he was, when Sir Geoffrey spoke, 



SUSAN. 239 

vainly attempting to coax it to stay in his 
left-hand lapel. 

" Will you really take pity upon me ? " 
he asked ; and the blood came up into his 
face as he put this question. 

" 0, certainly ! " said Susan ; and while 
fastening the stem, she looked up at him, 
blushing too, but with a merry light in her 
brown eyes. 

" Gad," exclaimed Sir Geoffrey, com- 
placently surveying his decoration, " they'll 
think along the road we've been to Brox- 
bourne Gardens ! " a remark which induced 
such an expression of disgust on Mr. Gayre's 
countenance that Susan laughed outright, 
and explained the correct form of bouquet 
generally borne home in triumph from that 
place of gay resort. 

" Wliat people will imagine, Sir Geoffrey, 
is that you must be a great rose fancier, 
and are returning from Paul's at Waltham," 
she said ; which suggestion of his brother- 



240 S US J N DR UMMOND. 

iu-la.w being mistaken for a florist so tickled 
Mr. Gayre's fancy that, his good-humour 
quite restored, he joined in Miss Drum- 
mond's merriment. 

" You are a bad, bad girl ! " declared 
the Baronet, pinching her cheek. " Come 
now, before we leave, you must tell 
me what day I am to drive over for 
you." 

Then instantly Susan's manner changed. 
She didn't know ; she was afraid she could 
not go ; perhaps Margaret might be able 
to arrange to run down by train and spend 
a day with her ; excuses Sir Geoffrey cut 
short by saying decidedly, 

" Now look here, my girl, no use our 
beating about the bush ; you're huffed, 
that's what you are, but you needn't be. 
Peggy will be only too glad if you'll come 
and stop with us — not for a night or two, 
remember, but on a long visit. She's just 
as lonely a girl as you will find in London, 



SUSAX. 241 

and she has not a friend on earth she likes 
as she does you. Of course, you know, 
we are down in the world a bit, but 
you cannot be the Susan I know if that 
makes any difference." 

" I was sure the poverty touch would 
fetch her," he remarked afterwards to Mr. 
Gayre ; and it did " fetch " Miss Drum- 
mond so far as to induce her to say 
" she would try to go and see Maggie," if 
that young lady would write and name an 
hour when she should be likely to find 
her at home. 

"I think I did that pretty well," 

remarked the Baronet, as he and his 

brother-in-law rode straight down the wide 

Highway to Edmonton, cheered by Mr. 

Arbery's parting assurance that whichever 

road they took back they would fancy 

the longest. " I think I did that pretty 

well, considerinc: we had nothim? but water 

at dinner. How people can drink water. 
Vol. 1 17 



242 S US AN DB UMMOKD. 

as if they were beasts of the field, beats 
me altogether." 

" If you were on the march, and 
couldn't get any, you might change your 
opinion." 

" I might," said Sir Geoffrey, in a tone 
which implied he did not think such a 
change very likely. 

" However," he went on, " I am going 
to stop here for a minute to ' bait ;' " 
and suiting the action to the word he rode 
up to the door of the inn, where he had 
previously partaken of spirituous refresh- 
ment, leaving Mr. Gayre to walk slowly 
on and admire the prospect of flat country 
which alone met his eye, look where he 
would. 

"I feel another man now," declared the 
Baronet, when he overtook his brother-in- 
law. " Well you haven't told me yet what 
you think of Susan." 

" She seems a very nice girl," answered 



SUSAX. 243 

Mr. Gayre, coldly as it seemed to Susan's 
enthusiastic admirer. 

" Xice ! I believe you. There's not a 
dark corner about her. I've known her — 
how long haven't I known her? — the 
dearest little woman ! I used to think it was 
a pity I could not harness her and Peggy 
when they were children ; such a pair 
they'd have made — Susie in blue shoes, 
and my young one in red ; blue and red 
sashes, blue and red necklaces to match ; 
and later on, while Peg was posturing 
before a looking-glass — if you believe me, 
from six years of age she was always 
putting flowers in her hair and smiling at 
her own reflection — Susie would be out in 
the paddocks with me, or sitting in the 
dining-room while I told her stories." 

" Stories ! " repeated Mr. Gayre in amaze- 
ment, wondering what sort of fairy-tales 
the Baronet's repertory contained. 

"Yes, stories," said Sir Geoffrey, defiantly. 

17—2 



244 -5 US AX BR UMMOND. 

" I don't mean, of course, nursery-tales 
or foolish stuff such as most children are 
crammed with ; but good sensible stories 
about duels, and races, and shooting, and 
spins across country — things likely to im- 
prove her mind. Lord, how she used to 
drink them in ! holding her breath almost 
till we got to the end of a run, and 
clutching the arms of her chair with both 
hands, and well-nigh gasping as I told her 
about flying over hedges and taking bull- 
finches, and all the rest of it. She'd never 
have been what she is if it hadn't been 
for me. One evening I made a great mis- 
take. I don't know how I happened to 
get upon Dick Darrell, who was the hard- 
est rider and the wildest devil I ever did 
come across. He was going to be married 
and settle down, and the young woman 
was stopping at Darrell Court with the 
father. Dick thought he'd have a burst 
with the hounds ; and if you believe me, 



SUSAK 245 

when I came to where at the last fence 
he went clean over his horse's head and 
broke his neck, Susan fell to crying to 
such an extent my housekeeper wouldn't 
let her go back to the Hall that night. 
Ay, it seemed a hard thing to take Darrell 
home stiff; such screaming and weeping 
and wailing I never heard — the old man 
childless and the bride a widow, as one 
may say." 

" What became of the bride, as you 
call her ? " asked Mr. Gayre, with some 
interest. 

" 0, she stayed to comfort the Squire ; 
and comforted him to such purpose that 
they made up a match between them." 

" I thought as much," remarked his 
brother-in-law sardonically. "Where's your 
rose, Chelston ? " 

" Faith, I don't know," answered the 
Baronet, glancing at his coat, and for the 
first time noticing the flower had disap- 



246 S USAN BR UMMOXB. 

peared. " I must have knocked the head 
off as I was mounting this fidgety beast." 

Mr. Gayre smiled, but said nothing. 
On the whole he was not perhaps dis- 
pleased that Sir Geoffrey had lost his Marshal 
Mel, as he had already lost the whole of 
his other possessions. 

Seated in the twilight then, it was of 
Susan Drummond and Enfield Highway and 
fields of emerald green, and a blue sky 
just flecked here and there with snow-white 
clouds, and the air filled with the fragrance 
of new-mown hay, that Mr. Gayre thought, 
as he dreamed his day-dream, and built fancy 
castles with towering pinnacles that glittered 
in the sun. Why should he not win and 
wear her? Why should he not marry and 
be happy? Why should she not come 
steahng to him through the gloom, and 
fill his empty heart, and change his lonely 
life into one of utter content? 

She was young, very young, no doubt ; 



susAy 247 

and he was old — yet not so old, after all. 
She was poor, and he was rich enough to 
orive her all he fancied she could desire. 

o 

Women had figuratively torn caps about 
him ; why should he despair of awakening 
an interest in Susan Drummond? She had 
no lover — he felt sure of that ; quite sure 
the depths of her nature had never yet 
been stirred. 

The twilight deepened ; it grew so dark 
he could not see the objects surrounding 
him ; and yet he dreamt on, till suddenly 
the door opened, and an old servant, who 
had been with him " through the wars," 
said, 

"Mr. Sudlow, Colonel, wishes to know 
if he can see you." 

"Yes," answered the "Colonel," coming 
back to earth and its reaHties. "Ask him 
to walk in ; and brincr Hcrhts and coffee." 

' DC 



CHAPTEE X. 

MR. SUDLOW IS ADVISED FOR HIS GOOD. 

gl^pIGHTS and Mr. Sudlow appeared 
IjbSk together — the former in tall silver 
candlesticks, massive, and of an antique 
pattern ; the latter in all the splendour of 
evening dress. As they shook hands Mr. 
Gayre surveyed his visitor. 

" Going to some scene of gay festivity ?" 
he inquired. 

Mr. Sudlow coloured a little. 

" No, nowhere very particular," he 
answered. " I just looked in on — on my 
way. 1 thought you would not mind. I 
have called so often lately and always 
found you out." 

" Yes, it has been unfortunate," remarked 



MR. SUDLOW IS ADVISE!) FOR HIS GOOD. 249 

the banker, ; but he did not proceed to 
indulge in expressions of regret, or tender 
any explanation of— or apology for — his 
absence. He only asked Mr. Sudlow if he 
would take some coffee, and while he 
sipped his own stood leaning against the 
mantelpiece, looking thoughtfully down on 
the flowers that filled the wide hearth. 

For a few moments the younger man 
did not speak ; then he said, as if in a 
sort of desperation, 

"Mr. Gayre, when are you going to 
introduce me to your brother-in-law?" 

Mr. Gayre, thus directly appealed to, 
laughed, took another lump of sugar and 
stirred his coffee, before he answered, 

" 1 am sure I cannot tell ; fact is, the 
more 1 see of the worthy Baronet the less 
I consider his acquaintance a blessing to 
be desired." 

" But you promised me," expostulated 
Mr. Sudlow ; " you did — you know you did ! " 



25 o S USAN DB UMMOND. 

" Did I ? Well, perhaps so ; only circum- 
stances alter cases, and with the fresh 
understanding I have recently gained of 
Sir Geoffrey's character, I should certainly 
advise any one able to keep him at 
arm's length to do so." 

"But it is not Sir Geoffrey I want to 
know — it is his daughter." 

"My dear fellow, don't excite yourself; 
of course, I understand it is the daughter. 
But you can't make her acquaintance 
without at the same time makins^ that of 
the father, and, as a friend, I say have 
nothing whatever to do with Sir Geoffrey 
Chelston. You think you can take care of 
yourself, I know," went on Mr. Gayre ; 
" that the owner of Meridian Square will 
be more than a match for the Baronet, 
without an acre of land or a house of his 
own. On your own head, then, be it. 
You shall become acquainted with a 
gentleman who, to quote those words of 



MB. SUDLOW IS ADVISED FOB HIS GOOD. 251 

Mr. Pickwick which so deceived the widow 
Bar dell, will teach you more tricks in a 
week than you would ever learn in a year." 

" And when ?" asked Mr. Sudlow, sugges- 
tively. 

" Only to consider the impatience of 
youth !" exclaimed Mr. Gayre. " Perhaps 
you imagined I Avould take you to call 
this minute," he added, with cruel irony ; 
"but I won't hurry you along the road to 
destruction. One of these afternoons we 
will search out Sir Geoffrey, about the time 
he arises from slumber and before he goes 
forth to seek whom he may devour. But 
one word of caution, Sudlow," went on 
Mr. Gayre, with a short bitter laugh ; 
" don't let him choose you a horse." 

" You may be very sure I won't " 
returned Mr. Sudlow, with energy. 

" I am aware you think you play 
billiards pretty well^still, were I in your 
place, I would not pit my skill against the 



252 SUSAN DRUMMOND. 

Baronet's. Further, do not lend him any 
money ; do not let him persuade you to 
put your name to paper; be very wary of 
all games both of chance and skill ; refrain 
from laying or taking odds — " 

"Anything else?" asked Mr. Sudlow a 
little sulkily. 

" Well, no, except that you would do 
well to have nothing whatever to do with 
Sir Geoffrey Chelston." 

" You must permit me to be the best 
judge of that." 

"All right, so you shall; only I should 
be very sorry to see Meridian Square, and 
all the other elegant and convenient, if less 
profitable, properties you possess, converted 
into ducks and drakes ; and that is a 
conjuring trick the Baronet will perform 
with incredible rapidity unless you are very 
careful." 

•' I believe he has bit you,'' said Mr. 
Sudlow, with a certain triumph. 



MR. SUDLOW IS ADVISED FOR HIS GOOD. 253 

"You are mistaken in that belief," 
answered Mr. Gayre, the coldness which 
liad characterised his manner during the 
interview deepening into displeasure. " In 
which direction are you going, Sudlow ? I 
will walk part of the way with you. I 
want a stroll and a cigar." 

In some places and with some people 
Mr. Sudlow was often bold, not to say 
arrogant ; but the banker exercised a deter- 
rent influence over him, which he felt 
perhaps rather than understood. 

With almost any other man he might 
have prolonged the conversation, and in- 
dulged in further argument ; but since his 
youth he had looked up to and feared Mr. 
Gayre. Habit accordingly proved stronger 
than indiscretion, and muttering something 
about the Strand, and looking in at one of 
the theatres, he took the hint so plainly 
given, and rose to go. 

They passed together into the quiet street. 



254 S US AN DR UMMOND. 

and under the peaceful stars sauntered 
slowly along, speaking no word for some 
little time, each busy with his own 
thoughts, whatever those thoughts might 
be. 

It was Mr. Sudlow who broke the 
silence, and his first remark proved he had 
been considering how to give Mr. Gayre a 
rap over the knuckles. 

" I was surprised to meet Miss Chelston 
the other day." 

"In the Park?" 

" No, I have not seen her there for a 
long time. At Baker Street Station." 

"Eomantic," commented Mr. Gayre, who, 
had he spoken frankly, would have said he 
felt a great deal more surprised than Mr. 
Sudlow. 

"A railway-station is as good a place to 
meet a lady as any other in these days," 
retorted the younger man. 

"It may be, you ought to know." 



MR. SUDLOW IS ADVISED FOB HIS GOOD. 255 

" She was going to Kew." 
" You mean my niece, I suppose ?" 
" Yes ; and we travelled down in the 
same compartment." 
"Indeed!" 

" She went to one of the old houses on 
the Green." 

"Once more referring to Miss Chelston?" 

" Of course ; I did not know it was 

necessary to go on repeating a woman's 

name in conversation, like ' my lord ' in 

an official letter." 

" ! " and Mr. Gay re walked on, smoking 
steadily, and refused utterly to ask a single 
question, though Mr. Sudlow waited and 
longed for him to do so. 

"True love will excuse many things," 
began the banker at last ; " still, as neither 
Sir Geoffrey nor his daughter is aware you 
fell in love with my niece the first day you 
saw her riding remarkably badly in the 
Park, I really do not think I should ever 



256 S USjy DB UMMOND. 

mention that you followed Miss Chelston 
in the manner you seem to have done. The 
Baronet might think you had been — spy- 



mg. 



" How do you know I was not going to 
the Green too, on my own business ? " 

" I do not know, of course ; I only sup- 
pose. And under any circumstances I 
should not advise you to mention the 
matter — I really should not." 

"I only mentioned it now to show 
you-" 

"To show me what?" asked Mr. Gayre, 
as the other paused and hesitated ; " to 
show you could form my niece's acquain- 
tance without my help. Make no mistake 
on that point, my friend — you might get 
to know a milliner's apprentice by travelling 
in the same compartment with her to Kew 
on Whit-Monday, but not that of a girl in 
a higher rank of life." 

"You are always so hard upon me," 



ME. SUDLOW IS ADVISED FOR HIS GOOD. 257 

complained Mr. Sudlow. "You generally 
take a wrong construction out of what I say." 

" Then learn to express yourself in such 
a way that misconstruction is impossible," 
returned Mr. Gayre, sternly. " At all 
events, understand clearly that though Sir 
Geoffrey Chelston is an unprincipled roue^ 
his daughter has never caught even a 
glimpse of Bohemia, and I mean to take 
very good care she never shall. Fortunately 
she has not the slightest inclination in that 
direction ; I believe a girl never lived more 
capable of understanding and resenting the 
impertinence of modern puppyhood than 
my niece." 

" Do you suppose I was going to offer her 
any impertinence ? " 

"How can I tell? All I know is you 
had better not." 

"Mr. Gayre, on my honour — " 

" Your honour ! Well, well, let that pass ; 
proceed." 

Vol. i. 18 



258 SUSAN BRUMMOyn. 

"I wish you would not so constantly 
catch me up — you make me forget what 
I intended to say." 

" That is a pity, for you were, if I mistake 
not, about to remark you admired the 
calm dignity of Miss Chelston's manners, 
when answering the observations made to 
her by a gentleman ' who travelled in the 
same compartment all the way to Kew,* 
as much as her beauty. Come, Sudlow, 
confess my niece snubbed you effectually." 

"She did not do anything of the sort." 

" Do you expect me to believe she talked 
to you?" 

"No, no! 0, no! She did not talk, but 
she was quite polite. Said ' no,' and ' yes,' 
and ' thank you,' and that." 

" Evidently regarding you as an outer 
barbarian all the time," suggested Mr. 
Gayre, with relish. " Yes, I know her style. 
Frankly,' he added, 'for your sake I am 
very sorry this has happened ; why can't 



MR. SUDLOW IS ADVISED FOB HIS GOOD. 259 

or won't you remember all girls are not 
barmaids, and that the fascinating manner 
and brilliant conversation which prove so 
effective across a marble-topped counter 
are really worse than useless with young 
ladies who have been discreetly brought up? " 

" You are always preaching to me," 
observed Mr. Sudlow. 

" And with so little result I think I 
shall leave off preaching altogether." 

" You are offended, and I declare nothinof 
in the world was further from my intention 
than to annoy you." 

" We had better let the subject drop." 

"But you will introduce me to your 
niece ? " 

"I shall have to reconsider that matter. 
Second thoughts are often best." 

"But, Mr. Gayre, indeed, I meant no 
harm. Pray do not speak to me in that 
tone. You know I would not voluntarily 
vex you for the world." 

1?— 2 



26o S US AN DE UMMOND. 

Mr. Gayre burst out laughing. It was 
the best thing possible for him to do under 
the circumstances. 

" Three quarrels in one day ! " he ex- 
claimed. "It would be wise, I think, to 
get me home and send for a doctor. Never- 
theless, Sudlow, it was truth that I told 
just now. You must mind your p's and q's 
when I introduce you to Sir Geoffrey 
Chelston." 

"I'll take good heed to every letter in 
the alphabet, if that is all," exclaimed Mr. 
Sudlow, relieved. Yet as he walked away, 
after parting from Mr. Gayre, who seemed 
disposed to carry out the programme he 
had indicated, so far as hieing him back 
to Wimpole Street was concerned, he 
muttered under his breath, "0, if I only 
once could get the chance of giving you 
change in your own coin, I'd make your 
ears tingle ! I wonder what has come to 
you lately ! You always were given to 



ME. SUDLOW IS ADVISED FOB HIS GOOD. 261 

gibing, but since the Baronet appeared 
on the scene you have grown unbear- 
able." 

Once rid of his companion, Mr. Gayre 
only retraced the way for a short distance 
towards Wimpole Street. Instead he turned 
in the direction of Manchester Square, 
and walking evidently for the sake of 
walking, and not because he desired to 
reach any definite goal, occupied himself 
in reflections upon the occurrences of the 
afternoon, devoting a considerable amount 
of attention to that statement of Mr. 
Sudlow's concerning Miss Margaret's visit 
to Kew. 

"I wonder who it is she knows at 
Kew?" he thought. "Shall I try to get 
her married ? " or, following the Canon's 
sensible advice, settle a small annuity on 
her and wash my hands of the whole 
business ? Heavens ! what dirty water I 
always seem to be dabbling in now! There 



262 SUSAN DRUMMOND, 

was a time when I would not have soiled 
the tip of my finger Avith it. Alas ! and 
alas ! Nicholas Gayre, Love has, I fear, 
played you a scurvy trick once more. 
You had better don cap and bells at once, 
for you are a far greater fool than Sudlow, 
and all for the sake of a woman concerning 
whom you know next to nothing. I 
wonder if she will be able to sweeten this 
Marah — extract any healing out of such a 
Bethesda ? " 

For, indeed, when Mr. Gayre exhausted 
the subject (and his mind was so constituted 
he could not help exhausting any subject 
which concerned himself, whether agreeable 
or the reverse) he found he had since that 
memorable day in May, when the horse 
Mr. Arbery was riding shied at a steam- 
roller, been travelling across a wilderness, 
in which the few springs were very bitter 
and the pools brackish, and playing an 
extremely risky game. What he said was 



MR. SUDLOW IS ADVISED FOE HIS GOOD. 263 

quite true. There had been a time when 
he would not have meddled in Sir Geoffrey's 
concerns for any consideration. You can- 
not touch pitch and not be defiled was a 
truth the Gayres never cared to forget, and 
Nicholas Gayre could not disguise from 
himself the fact that his brother-in-law 
could in no moral sense be regarded as 
clean. The more he saw of him the more 
hopelessly disreputable did the man appear. 
Washing an Ethiop white would have been 
a possible task in comparison with taking 
even a part of the stain out of the Baronet's 
nature. 

In the days gone by, when Sir Geoffrey 
kept his account in Lombard Street, on the 
first occasion of his drawing below the large 
amount which Gayres expected to be kept 
as a balance, a letter was despatched to Chel- 
ston Pleasaunce, directing his attention to 
the fact, and begging that the mistake might 
be rectified ; but, finding the same " mis- 



264 S US AN DB UMMOND. 

take " repeated, Mr. Gayre, Senior, requested 
that the account might be closed. 

This was the beginning of a coolness which 
lasted up to the time when Mr. Nicholas 
Grayre sought out his relative in North Bank 
— a coolness which Sir Geoffrey's own conduct 
intensified into total estrangement. The 
banker thought of all this as he walked along 
the London streets under the quiet stars, and 
a feeling not unlike shame oppressed him as 
he considered how utterly at variance his own 
conduct had of late been with the traditions 
of his house. 

" And all because of a woman's face," he 
decided. " Well, I can't draw back now. 
I went into the Chelston pest-house with my 
eyes open, and whatever happens I have only 
myself to thank. Sir Geoffrey is not any 
better than I expected to find him ; and my 
niece is not much worse than I expected to 
find her. She is false ; but she is not fast, 
thank Heaven. I wonder who it is she knows 



ME. SUDLOW IS ADVISED FOE HIS GOOD. 265 

at Kew ? She ought not to be runnmg about 
London by herself; but I do not see that I 
can interfere in the matter." And having, 
just as he reached his own door, arrived at 
this sensible conclusion, Mr. Gayre put his 
key in the lock, and passed into the hbrary, 
where he saw a letter lying on the table. 

" It is from Sir Geoffrey, Colonel," said his 
servant ; "a messenger brought it up from 
the club. He did not know whether any 
answer was required ; so I told him you were 
out, and that I had no idea when you would 
be back, but if a reply was expected I could 
take it myself." 

Mr. Gayre made no comment. He only 
lifted the note with the usual dread and 
repugnance with which he always approached 
the Baronet's communications, and, tearing 
open the envelope, read : 

" Deae Gayee, — Peggy is certainly turning 
over a new leaf. What do you think she 
proposed this evening ? Why, that we should 



266 S US AN BE UMMOND. 

both run down to Enfield early to-morrow 
and look up Susan. I can't tell you how 
pleased I am. I have promised to be a good 
boy and get home betimes to-night, so as to 
be in condition for the journey. 

''Yours, G. C." 

" Now what is the Enghsh of this move ? " 
marvelled Mr. Gayre. But he need not have 
exercised his mind over this question. For 
once Miss Chelston was playing a perfectly 
straightforward game. " Circumstances atler 
cases," and she felt as anxious for Miss Drum- 
mond's company as she had once been de- 
sirous of avoiding it. 



^^^hk^^^ 



-^^f^t^ 




CHAPTEE XI. 

SHOULD AULD ACQUAINTANCE BE FORGOT ? " 

^EACE reigned in Mr. Moreby's villa. 
Tlie summer glory lay golden with- 
out, sunshine dwelt within. Susan had come, 
and the house seemed transformed. The 
rooms were the same, the furniture was the 
same, and yet everything looked different ; 
the place had that charm of home it never 
possessed before. Susan was there — with her 
bright cheerful face, her pleasant laugh, her 
useful hands, her constant thoughtfulness, 
her unselfish heart, her tireless consideration 
for others. Mistaken ! Ko, Mr. Gap-e un- 
derstood here at last was a woman sound to 
the core ; a woman a man would be safe in 
loving, and who herself could love till the 



268 S US AN DR UMMOND. 

last hour of her hfe. Already he felt as if 
he had known her for years — as if there 
had never been a time when he and Susan 
Drummond were total strangers. 

They sat at tea in the charming room over- 
looking the lawn ; sun-blinds excluded the 
glare of light and heat, the windows were 
filled with flowers. Sir Geofirey lay almost 
at full length in an easy-chair ; his daughter 
was looking her best, and trying to seem 
demurely unconscious of Mr. Sudlow's admir- 
ing glances. 

Miss Drummond presided over the tea 
equipage, and Mr. Gayre was taking her 
part against the apparently good-natured 
accusation of extravagance which Miss Chel- 
ston was bringing against her. 

But Susan needed no champion, she was 
perfectly well able to defend herself. 

" If one is to have tea at all one may as 
well have it good, and I am very sure the 
extra cost cannot be a shilling a week. 1 



''SHOULD AULD ACQUAINTANCE BE FOR GOT." 269 

excessively dislike tea that has been 
' brewed.' " 

"So do I, Susan," exclaimed Sir Geoffrey, 
who had been coaxed into accepting a cup 
of the refreshing beverage, and was con- 
sidering how to escape drinking it. " I'd just 
as soon take a dose of senna." 

" Your tea is certainly extremely nice," 
capped Mr. Gayre. 

" We are all teetotallers at Enfield, you 
see," went on Susan, in calm explanation — 
"my cousin from choice, my aunt on prin- 
ciple, and I and the servants from necessity." 

" Susan, how can you say such things ! " 
expostulated Miss Chelston, shocked. 

" Have I said something very dreadful ? " 
asked Miss Drummond of the company gene- 
rally. 

" No, faith," cried Sir Geoffrey ; " after the 
wine your uncle used to have at the Hall 
you must find water an awful cross to bear." 

" Happily the water is very good at Enfield. 



2 70 S US AN BR UMMOXD. 

But what I meant to say was, that as we have 
no other extravagance we surely are justified 
in making good tea." 

" You shall make it as you like here, 
Susan. That lazy little minx always leaves 
it to the sevrants, and nice stufi* they turn 
out ;" and the Baronet set down his cup and 
took a little stroll to the window, and peeped 
under the sun-blind and remarked he thought 
a breath of air was stirring, and then asked 
Susan when they were to have a long ride 
together. "I'll find you a mount," he added. 

" I think there is one of my horses Miss 
Drummond would like," remarked Mr. Gayre. 

" 0, you don't want to ride, do you, dear?" 
suggested Miss Chelston softly. 

" Yes, I do, very much indeed. But I must 
first oret a habit ; I won't bring; eternal dis- 
grace upon you, Maggie, by wearing that 
old thing I had on when we met in the Park." 

" It was a horror," said Miss Chelston. 

" Ah, well, it won't offend your eyes 



^'SHOULD AULD ACQUJIXTAyCE BE FORGOT:- 271 

again. I mean to have one of the latest 
fashion, short and narrow, so that if I 
am thrown I sha'n't have a chance of 
helping myself." 

" Order it from my tailor, Susan," ad- 
vised Sir Geoffrey ; " he never expects to 
be paid under six years." 

" You had better have it from mine, 
Miss Drummond," said Mr. Sudlow ; " he 
is a very good man, and allows fifteen per 
cent, for cash with order." 

" What a pull you rich fellows have 
over us poor devils !" groaned Sir Geoffrey; 
" we are forced to pay through the nose 
for everything." 

"Thank you, Mr. Sudlow, for your sug- 
gestion," answered Susan ; " but I am 
having the habit ' built,' as my cousin 
phrases it, by the ' local practitioner.' " 

" Good gracious, Susan, you might just 
as well put your money in the fire ! "' 
said Miss Chelston. 



272 S US AX BR UMMOXJ). 

" Wait till you see this great work of 
art," advised Susan. " I ventured to pay 
the old man a compliment about the fit, 
which he received with lofty indifference, 
merely saying, " Yes, I think we are pretty 
good sculptors ! ' " 

Mr. Gayre laughed. Miss Chelston looked 
disgusted, and Sir Geoffrey declared, "By 
Jove, that wasn't bad ! " 

"What is the colour of the thing?" 
asked Miss Chelston. 

" The colour of the uniform of the Irish 
Constabulary," said Miss Drummond, " in- 
visible green. I am not going to enter 
into competition with you, though I do 
think that precise shade of blue in your 
habit divine." 

" And so becoming," added Mr. Sudlow, 
as a general sort of statement which he 
made particular by a look at Miss 
Chelston. 

" And so becoming, as you truly re- 



" SHOULD AULD ACQUAINTANCE BE FORGOT:' 273 

mark," observed Miss Drummond, lauo-hinof, 
" to some persons y 

At this juncture Sir Geoffrey bethought 
him that the room was unbearably hot, 
and that he would take a turn round the 
garden to " stretch his legs a bit." 

It was some time before he appeared 
sauntering over the lawn, for it had been 
necessary for him to pause in the dining- 
room and refresh exhausted nature from a 
convenient decanter. 

Shortly Mr. Gayre joined him among 
the flowers, and then learned his brother- 
in-law was deuce dly sorry, but he had an 
appointment he could not possibly miss. 

" Don't let me drive you away, Gayre, 
though," he said. " Make yourself as much 
at home as you can ; and look here you 
bring your friend up some evening to 
dinner. The girls make luncheon, dinner 
when I am out ; but name your day, and 
I daresay we can manage something fit to 

Vol. i. 19 



274 S USAN DE UMMOND. 

eat. Susan and Mrs. Lavender shall go 
into committee." 

" Are you going to instal Miss Drum- 
mond as housekeeper?" asked Mr. Gayre. 

" Bless you, she has installed herself. 
Peggy will do nothing but dress. There 
never was such a girl for finery. She'll 
have to marry somebody rich, for she'd 
very soon bring a poor man to the work- 
house. Has it struck you that Sudlow's 
mightily taken with her ? " 

" He seems to admire her very much." 

" Well, then, clearly understand, if he 
means business I won't stand in the way. 
Anybody with half an eye can see there's 
not a bit of breed about him, but you say 
he's well ofi*; nobody without money need 
think of Peggy. It would be a great re- 
lief to me to have her well settled ; so now 
you know my views, and, as far as I am 
concerned, your friend can propose as soon 
as he likes." 



" SHO ULD A ULD A CQ UAINTANCE BE FOB GOTr 275 

" But, good Heavens, he was only intro- 
duced to her the other day ! " 

" I know that ; but ' happy's the wooing 
that's not long of doing ; ' and between 
you and me, the sooner we can get her off 
our hands the better. A great deal of run- 
ning could be done in a short time ; and 
the days slip away when you are living in 
a borrowed house and have to trust to 
your wits for money. I thought I would 
just give you a hint of what is in my mind." 

" Most kind of you, I'm sure." 

" Well, my idea is a man can't be too 
straightforward, and I may tell you the 
sooner Peggy is married the better I shall 
be pleased." 

" Surely you don't want, though, to 
throw her at the head of the first person 
who seems to admire her ? Don't be in 
such a hurry ; give the girl a chance. 
She may meet plenty of men more desirable 
in every way than Mr. Sudlow." 

19-2 



276 S US AN DB UMMOND. 

" She may," agreed Sir Geoffrey, " and 
also she may not ; besides Gayre, a ' bird 
in the hand,' you remember ; and don't 
you make any mistake about sentiment, 
and all that sort of thing, as regards 
Peggy. She is as cold as a stone. She 
cares for nothing on earth but herself. 
K she had been different she might have 
done well for both of us." 

" Then you had some plan in your 
head when you brought her to London," 
thought Mr. Gayre, " which she has 
baulked." 

" And she's not a bit clever," pursued 
Sir Geoffrey, anxious, apparently, tho- 
roughly to convince Mr. Gayre of the 
desirability of closing with the first eligi- 
ble offer. " All that can be said in 
her favour is she's pretty, and she knows 
how to dress herself." 

" Two very good points about a woman," 
commented Mr. Gayre. 



" SHOULD AULD ACQUAINTANCE BE FORGOT:' 277 

" Well, well, I only tell you for your 
guidance." 

" But, Sir Geoffrey, she is not my 
daughter ; if you want to get married 
you had better set to work for yourself, 
had you not ? " 

" I ! What can I do, a poor fellow 
out at elbows with Fortune, who has had 
the devil's own luck in life ? Besides, it 
is not from my side of the house she 
gets her selfishness and want of brains. 
If I had thought more of myself and less 
of other peo|)le I should not have been 
placed as I am. I have been too con- 
siderate, too honest, Gayre — that is about 
the state of the case. Ah, if I had to 
begin life over again, I would act very 
differently!" 

" I wouldn't vex myself about your own 
perfections, "were I you." 

" No ; it's of no use crying over spilt 
milk. But, to come back to what we 



278 S USA^^ BE UMMOND. 

were saying, you keep that matter in mind, 
and remember if your friend likes to pro- 
pose I shall make no objection. Some 
men would want to know a lot about 
family and all the rest of it, but, thank 
Heaven, I have no prejudices. Everybody 
must have a befifinninof, and all I shall 
require to be satisfied about is, can he 
pay her milliner's bills and keep her as a 
girl with such a face ought to be kept ? 
All, talk of the — here she comes ! Well, 
Peggy, how are you going to amuse your 
uncle ? for I must be off. I am so sorry 
Mr. Sudlow — confoundedly sorry ; but Gayre 
has promised to bring you up to dinner 
some day very soon. You'll come, quite 
in a friendly way, won't you ? We are 
very plain people, but sincere. I never 
ask any man to the house I don't want 
to see." 

In which statement there was so much 
truth Mr. Gayre felt that even mentally he 



''SHOULD AULD ACQUAiyTAyCE BE FOBGOT" 279 

could not controvert it, while Mr. Sudlow, 
almost trembling with pleasure, said he 
would be only too delighted to accept the 
invitation. 

" That's all right, then," said the Baronet 
heartily. " Xow I really can't stop another 
minute. "You'll excuse me, I'm sure, Mr. 
Sudlow. Till our next merry meeting, 
Gayre. Farewell, Peggy. You'll see the 
last of me, I know, Susan ; " and he 
turned back a pleased face to his brother- 
in-hiw as Miss Drummond shpped her 
hand through his arm and went with 
him into the house. 

Something in that action seemed to 
touch Mr. Gayre to the heart. He had 
heard ere then of guardian angels, but 
never previously did it fall to his lot to 
see a pure and lovely woman taking charge 
of such a sinner as Sir Geoffrey Chelston. 

" We must also be thinking about 
going," he said ; but Miss Chelston pleaded 



28o S US AN DB UMMONB. 

SO prettily for a longer visit that the 
gentlemen consented to remain tiU nearer 
dinner-time, and finally it was arranged 
they should all go out for a turn in 
Eegent's Park. 

" 0, delightful ! " exclaimed Susan, when 
the question was referred to her. " I do 
think this part of the park so exquisite." 

Half-an-hour later they were all stroll- 
ing along together — Susan in a black silk 
dress, Margaret in a brown, which became 
her as well as the blue cloth habit had 
done. Eegent's Park was looking its very 
best ; the ornamental water shimmered 
and glittered under the beams of the 
evening sun. The leaves of the trees 
were fresh and cool, and free from dust ; 
the birds were singing in the mimic plan- 
tations ; there was a great peace in the 
hour and the scene, which seemed to lay a 
soothing hand on the hearts of two, at all 
events, who looked wistfully at the landscape. 



''SHOULD AVLD ACQUAINTANCE BE FOBGOT." 281 

"It is very, very pretty," said Susan 
to Mr. Gayre ; and, looking in her face, 
he agreed with her ; it was, indeed, very, 
very pretty. 

"Are Kew Gardens well worth seeing," 
asked Susan, after a minute's pause. 

" Yes ; I like the wild part best, how- 
ever, where one gets away from the ex- 
cursionists." 

" Maggie and I are going down to Kew 
to-morrow ; perhaps we might be able to 
see the gardens." 

" They are open every day," said Mr. 
Gayre. 

" It was not that I meant ; we intended 
to visit two dear old ladies that we used 
to know at Chelston. They are the sisters- 
in-law of the former Eector. They used 
to live with and keep house for him. 
Such charming ladies! You can't think 
how lovely they were ; the pink in their 
cheeks was so delicate, and their eyes so 



282 S US AN DE UMMOXD. 

clear and blue, and tliey dressed so 
plainly, yet so spotlessly, if you know 
what I mean ; and the poor loved them 
so much, and with reason. Well, the 
Eector died. But I am afraid I tire you, 
Mr. Gayre." 

" Tire ! Your story enchants me." 
" The Eector died, and then it seemed 
such a terrible thing for them to go 
into lodgings and live on their poor little 
income. I am sure I lay awake at nights 
crying about them, for they were such 
darhngs. And then, in a minute, like 
something in a fairy-tale, a distant rela- 
tion died, and left them a house on Kew 
Green for their lives. They took their 
lovely china and Indian curiosities up 
there. I helped them pack. And a niece, 
a widow, lives with them ; and they put 
their incomes together ; and it really is a 
delightful . ending to what might have 
been a sad tale. They have a nephew, 



"SHOULD AULJD ACQUAISTAyCE BE FORGOT. 283 

an artist. I think you heard Sir Geoffrey 
mention him." 

" Is he the son of the widow," asked 
Mr. Gayre. 

" Xo ; his mother died loner and Iodo- 



ago. 



" And is he still in Eome, or has he 
returned to England ?" 

" I have not heard anything about him for 
a long time. I shall know all to-morrow." 

" At last," thought Mr. Gayre, " I have 
met a woman in whom is no ' shadow of 
turning.' She is as transparent as glass. 
She is frankness and truth itself." And he 
felt mightily relieved ; for, after all, there 
seemed no wrong in his niece's trip to Kew. 

" Save that she ought not to have gone 
alone. But then, if she never went out ex- 
cept with a chaperon, she might stop at 
home for the term of her natural life." 

Altogether it was an anomalous position. 
Mr. Gayre, when he considered the matter 



284 S US AN DR UMMOND. 

dispassionately, found it extremely difficult 
to define the rank to which his niece be- 
longed. 

" How fond, Miss Drummond," he said, 
" you seem to be of every thing and person 
connected with Chelston !" 

" If you only could imagine," she an- 
swered, " how happy I was there, you would 
not wonder at my loving even the vagabond 
curs running about the roads." 

Chelston, she went on to tell him, was 
the loveliest place in all the wide world. 
Had he ever been there ? Yes, once. Did 
he remember this, that, and the other about 
the Pleasaunce, the yew hedges, the fish-ponds, 
the cherry orchard, the great mulberry-trees, 
the vineries, the billiard-room, the library? 

" At one time I used almost to live at the 
Pleasaunce," she explained. " Sir Geofirey 
was good to me ;" and then in a few words 
she told how, when but two years of age, 
her father died out in India, and her mother 



^^ SHOULD AULD ACQUAIXTANCE BE FORGOT." 285 

drooped and pined, and was buried in Chel- 
ston churchyard six months afterwards. 

" I never knew what it was, though, 
really to miss my parents," she said. 
" Everybody was so kind. I do not think 
any child could have been more petted and 
spoiled than I. My dear uncle would not 
even let me go to school to be taught, as 
poor old nurse used to lament, to be like 
other young ladies ; and I am very sure 
Maggie is right in saying I did not learn 
much from the governesses, who were sup- 
posed to teach useful knowledge. Dreadful, 
was it not ? " 

And Miss Drummond, remembering many 
pleasant speeches Miss Chelston had made 
to her in Mr. Gayre's presence, turned a 
mischievous laughing face to that gentle- 
man, who, though he only smiled in answer, 
thought if his companion were to be 
regarded as an example of total ignorance, 
education might be dispensed with. 



286 SUSAN DRUMMONB. 

"I used to hear so much about you," 
Susan went on, " I feel as if I had known 
you all my life. And then — papa was an 
officer too." 

"I wish I were an officer now," answered 
Mr. Gayre heartily, " only that in such case 
I might not have had the pleasure of mak- 
ing your acquaintance. Should you like 
to go back to Chelston, Miss Drummond ? " 

" I think not," she said, with a sad 
dreamy look in her wonderful eyes. "You 
see we cannot take up the past again just 
as it was. It is like reading a book a 
second time, or hearing a song, or seeing a 
sunset. It is never the same twice. My 
past was very beautiful, but it is ended. 
You can't put last year's leaves on the 
trees, and we — we can't stay children and 
girls for ever. Pretty nearly all the people 
I loved are dead or gone. No, I should 
not care for Chelston without my kind old 
uncle, and Sir GeoiTrey, and all the other 



" SHOULD AULD ACQUAIXTACXE BE FORGOT." 287 

friends I was so fond of." And for a 
moment Susan turned aside, while Mr. 
Gayre, who had his memories of loss, if not 
of love, walked on in silence too. 

Just then, while Mr. Sudlow and his 
companion were gravely discoursing con- 
cerning the latest on dit — the Queen and 
Koyal Family, the picture of the year, 
and the play which was considered most 
amusing, or the book attracting the great- 
est attention — Mr. Gayre saw a gentleman 
striding along the path, who, with eyes 
bent on the ground and hat pulled over 
his brow, passed beautiful Miss Chelston 
without a look, and would have served 
Miss Drummond in hke manner had that 
young lady not arrested his attention with 
a cry. 

"Lai!" she said, "Lai!" and then they 
grasped hands, both hands. 

" 0, I am so glad ! " she went on, " I 
am so glad ! " 



288 S US AN DE UMMOND. 

"Where in all the wide world, Susan, 
did you spring from ? " he asked, his face 
radiant with pleasure. " It is like the 
good old long ago, meeting you again." 

"I am stopping with the Chelstons," 
she answered. " Mr. Gayre, would you 
mind telling Margaret this is Mr. Hilderton ? " 

Sweetly and decorously, without any 
undue haste or excitement, came back 
the fair Marguerite. She did not call the 
young gentleman "Lai." She did not greet 
him with effusion ; she only said, " How 
very odd! We intended to go to Kew 
to-morrow." 

Susan's friendship, however, was of quite 
another kind. No cause to complain of 
the warmth of her greeting. She insisted 
on knowing " Where he was," " What he was 
doing," "How he was doing." Wliile Miss 
Chelston seemed to be considering how 
she could most gracefully efface herself, 
Miss Drummond asked fifty questions. 



''SHOULD AULD ACQUAINTANCE BE FOB GOT." 289 

"I have a studio in Camden Town, 
Susan," said the young man, " and your 
face is in a picture there. Come and see 
it— do." 

" Certainly I will," she answered. " Not 
to-morrow, but the day after. Is it not 
wonderful to have met you ? " 

" I don't know," he answered ; " I live 
not very far away." And then, raising 
his hat to the rest of the party, and 
shaking hands with Susan, he was gone. 

"How could you," asked Miss Chelston, 
chidingiy — "how could you think, dear, 
of saying we would go to Mr. Hilderton's 
studio? The thing is utterly impossible." 

Sir Geoffrey's daughter tarried behind 
Mr. Sudlow to make this remark, and 
her friend retorted, 

" I never said you would go ; but / 
shall." 

" Now, Susan darling ! " 

" Now, Marguerite ! " 

Vol. i. 20 



290 S U8AN DR UMMONB. 

And the two women stood tall and 
lovely and defiant in the evening light. 

" If you would accept of my escort, 
Miss Drummond," said Mr. Gayre, softly. 

" 0, how very, very good you are ! " 
exclaimed Susan, turning towards him with 
that charming smile which seemed her 
greatest possession ; " I should be so glad 
if you would go with me. Not because 
I mind what Margaret says in the least. 
She knows, nobody better, that Lai and 
I have been good brother and sister al- 
ways, and shall be the same, I hope, 
till the end of our days. But if you 
went with me, you might see some pic- 
ture you admired, and then you could 
talk of it to your friends, and, perhaps, 
somebody might buy it. Lai is very, very 
clever ; but — " 

"Is that the Lai who did not jump 
the river at Chelston?" asked Mr. Gayre. 

Miss Chelston had, apparently in stately 



" SHOULD AULD ACQUAiyTAXCE BE FOEGOT." 291 

disgust of her friend's frivolity and im- 
propriety, resumed her walk with Mr. 
Sudlow. 

" Yes. Poor Lai ! I am afraid he will 
never jump any river anywhere," said 
Miss Drummond, sadly. "Don't you know 
that sort of man ? But, of course, you 
must be acquainted with all sorts of men. 
There are people who can write books, 
and paint pictures, and compose music ; 
and yet not sell a book, or a picture, 
or a song. I am afraid Lai won't do 
much good so far as making money is 
concerned, and yet he has such genius. 
He did a crayon likeness of uncle, which 
was, indeed, his living seK. Poor, poor 
Lai ! Isn't he handsome ? " 

With a hght heart Mr. Gayre agreed 
the young man was uncommonly hand- 
some. 

"I do not think it is well for men to 

be so very good-looking," observed Miss 

20-2 



292 SUSAN DRUMMOND. 

Drummond. " I know his beauty has 
been Lai Hilder ton's ruin. His aunts de- 
nied him nothing, and the women about 
Chelston, young and old, thought he was 
a nonsuch. Poor Lai! I have often felt 
sorry for him. You will look at his pic- 
tures, won't you, Mr. Gayre?" 

If she only could have realised the fact 
she had but to speak a little longer in 
similar terms to insure the purchase of Mr. 
Hilderton's whole collection! 




CHAPTEE XII. 

HIGH FESTIVAL. 

ly^AYS swept by. Since Mr. Gayre left 
^I^P the army, days had never sped along 
so quickly. All his scruples vrere gone, 
his painful self-examinations ended. He 
almost lived at Xorth Bank ; he walked and 
drove and rode with his niece and her 
friend. Save for an uneasiness he could 
not explain, an occasional doubt which 
would intrude, he was perfectly, utterly 
happy and content. 

For some reasons best known to himself 
— most probably because he wished at once 
to begin operations upon the widow's heart 
— Sir Geoffrey decided to accompany " his 



294 S VSAN DB UMMONB. 

girls " to Brunswick Square when the 
luncheon " came off." 

"I think it would be only a fitting mark 
of respect to your kind friend," he ob- 
served to Mr. Gayre ; who merely said 
"Very well," and having duly apprised 
Mrs. Jubbins of the pleasure in store for 
her, announced that he would defer his 
own visit till some future occasion. 

According to the Baronet's account every- 
thing went off delightfully. He knew he 
had made himself most agreeable. Mrs. 
Jubbins' acquaintance with that class of 
" nobleman " (brought prominently before 
the public by the Tichborne trial) was 
of the slightest. Indeed, she had never 
before known but one " Sir " intimately, and 
he was only a red-faced, snub-nosed, loud- 
talking gentleman in the tallow trade, who 
had been knighted upon the occasion of 
some royal expedition to the City. In com- 
parison with him Sir Geoffrey's manners 



HIGH FESTIVAL. 295 

when on good behaviour must have seemed 
princely. Truly, as the widow told Mr. 
Gayre afterwards, his brother-in-law was 
" most affable," " and I am quite taken with 
your dear niece," went on Mrs. Jubbins. 
" She is a most lovely girl, and so sweet 
and winning ; but I can't say I care for her 
friend. What do you suppose she asked 
my maid ? " 

" I really cannot conjecture. Was it 
something very dreadful ? " 

"Very impertinent, at any rate," declared 
Mrs. Jubbins ; " she asked her if my hair 
was all my own'' 

" Miss Drummond," said Mr. Gayre, when 
he next went to North Bank, " may I 
inquire what induced you to put such a 
singular question to IMrs. Jubbins' maid as 
you did about that lady's hair ? " 

" It was not Susan, it was I," interposed 
Miss Chelston. " I did not mean any rude- 
ness, though it seems LIrs. Jubbins is verv 



296 S USAN BR UMMONB. 

angry with me. So she has been com- 
plaining to you, has she ? " 

" Yes, but she said it was your friend. 
Miss Drummond, what are you laughing at? " 

" I can tell you," said Miss Chelston, 
as Susan murmured " Nothing." " She is 
wondering if Mrs. Jubbins let down her 
back hair to prove to you it was ' all 
real, every bit of it ; ' for that is what 
she did the other day, when expressing 
her righteous indignation to Susan." 

" My acquaintance with that back hair 
is of too long a date for practical assur- 
ance to be necessary," answered Mr. Gayre, 
joining in Susan's mirth, which was now 
uncontrollable. 

" Her hair is as coarse as a horse's 
mane," put in Miss Chelston, spitefully. 

" no, Maggie. It is not as fine as 
yours, but it is magnificent hair, for all 
that," said Susan. 

"I do wish you would call me Mar- 



HIGH FESTIVAL. 297 

guerite ! " exclaimed that young lady. " I 
haTe told you over and over again I detest 
hearing Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, from 
morning to night ! " 

" I'll call you Griselda, if you like," 
said her friend slyly. 

" What I cannot conceive," remarked 
Mr. Gayre, " is how Mrs. Jubbins came to 
imagine you were Miss Drummond, and 
Miss Drummond you." 

" It was all papa's fault," answered Miss 
Chelston. " You know the ridiculous way 
he talks about Susan being his own girl 
and his favourite child, and his two 
daughters, and all that sort of thing ; 
and poor Mrs. Jubbins, whom I really do 
not consider the cleverest or most brilliant 
person I ever met, got utterly bewildered. 
Besides, Susan set herself to be so very 
agreeable that I know I must have seemed 
a most reserved and unpleasant young 
person by comparison ; and, of course, Mrs. 



298 S us AN BE UMMOND. 

Jubbins imagined Mr. Gayre's niece could 
not be other than delightful. She still 
believes Susan to be me. For some reason, 
when Susan called the other day to inquire 
concerning the health of Mrs. Jubbins' 
ankle, she did not think it necessary to 
explain the mistake." 

" I thought it would be wiser to give 
her time to forget that little matter of 
the hair," observed Miss Drummond. 

" You had better try to make your 
peace, my dear Marguerite," suggested Mr. 
Gayre, a little ironically. "I know no 
kinder or better woman than ]\irs. Jub- 
bins ; and it will grieve me very much if 
she and you do not get on well together." 

"If I can make her credit I am really 
your niece she will forgive me readily," 
said Miss Chelston, in a tone which told 
Mr. Gayre she understood the widow's feel- 
ings towards her uncle, and did not ap- 
prove of them. 



HIGH FESTIVAL. 299 

Indeed, the whole question had been very 
freely commented upon by Sir Geoffrey and 
before Miss Drummond. 

" I shouldn't wonder," declared the 
Baronet, "if they make a match of it yet. 
I think she'll bag her bird, after all. He's 
a strange fellow, but I daresay he'll settle 
down in the traces one of these days. I 
am sure he might have her for the asking, 
and I don't think it would be a bad thing 
for him, eh, Susan ? " 

" It does not strike me as very suitable," 
answered Susan. 

" She's not exactly his sort, but she'd 
make him comfortable, I'll be bound. 
With such a lot of money any woman 
must be considered suitable ; besides, Mrs. 
Jubbins is not bad-looking, and she's a 
good soul, I feel satisfied." 

" Is not Mr. Gayre rich enough ? " asked 
Susan. "I should have thought it was not 
necessary for him to marry Money." 



300 SUSAN BEUMMONB. 

" Bless you, my girl, noboby is rich 
enough. Gayre must have plenty ; but I 
daresay he could do with more, and it 
would be an actual sin to let such a 
fortune slip out of the family." 

Susan did not say anything further, but 
she thought a great deal ; and she often 
afterwards looked earnestly at Mrs. Jub- 
bins, wondering whether Mr. Gayre would 
ever marry that lady, and supposing he 
did how his notions and those of his wife 
could be made to work harmoniously to- 
gether. She hked Mr. Gayre immensely ; 
but somehow she felt she did not hke him 
quite so well since the Baronet broached 
that idea of marrying the widow for the 
sake of her money. 

And yet he was so kind and considerate. 
It was he who made her visit utterly 
delightful. Margaret and she had their 
little tiffs and misunderstandings. Sir Geof- 
frey — well, Sir Geoffrey did not seem to 



HIGH FESTIVAL. 301 

her quite the Sir Geoffrey of old. " We 
go on," as she observed so truly to Mr. 
Gayre ; and oftentimes we find old friends 
do not suit us if they have not gone on 
our way. 

Much as faces change — age, sadden, alter 
-^they do not change half so much as 
souls. This is what makes it so hard to 
take up a friendship again after a long 
separation. We may get accustomed to 
gray hair that had kept its sunny brown 
in our loving memory — to wrinkles — to 
dim eyes — to the bowed head and the 
faltering step ; but what we never grow 
reconciled to are the moral changes wrought 
by time, the faults which have become 
intensified, the latent weakness we never 
suspected, the falsehood where we would 
have pledged our lives there existed only 
truth, the frivolity and the selfishness 
where we never dreamed to find other than 
high aims and noble aspirations. 



302 5 US AN DB UMMOND. 

To the young the process of disillusion 
seems terrible, and Susan found that to be 
forced to see her friends' faults was very 
bitter indeed. 

Nevertheless, spite of Sir Geoffrey's 
eternal Jeremiads on the subject of money, 
and his daughter's jealousy, irritabihty, and 
lack of ordinary straightforwardness, Susan 
did enjoy stopping at North Bank. It was 
such a deUghtful change from the deathly 
quietness and dull monotony of Enfield 
Highway, from her aunt's lamentations, 
and the conventionality, not to say stu- 
pidity, of her cousin's intended wife. 

Constant variety was the rule at Sir 
Geoffrey's : except when Margaret and she 
were alone together, Miss Drummond never 
felt dull. 

"I daresay I should tire of the Hfe after 
a time," thought Susan ; " but a little of it 
is deUghtful." 

Flower-shows, concerts, exhibitions — Mr. 



HIGH FESTIVAL. 303 

Gayre took the girls to everything that 
was going on. Sometimes Mr. Sudlow was 
of the party, but the banker never seemed 
particularly desirous of his company. He 
was waiting to see whether some better 
chance might not open for liis niece. The 
closer he came in contact with that gentle- 
man the less he liked him, " and yet he 
is good enough for her," was his dehberate 
conclusion. 

Happiness, in those bright sunshiny days, 
made Mr. Gayre almost amiable. Dimly it 
occurred to him that if he married Susan 
he could then give Margaret the opportu- 
nity of meeting men of a different class and 
stamp altogether. He had quite made up 
his mind to ask Susan to be his wife; but 
he did not want to be precipitate. He 
wished to woo her almost imperceptibly, to 
make himself necessary to her before he 
spoke of love, and win her heart, if slowly, 
surely, and run no risk of even a temporary 



304 S US AN DB UMMOND. 

rejection. He could not do without her. 
She was the woman he had been waiting for 
through the years — sweet, tender, spirited, 
truthful. Life seemed very beautiful to him 
then — well worth living, indeed. 

Properly speaking, Miss Drummond's so- 
journ at North Bank was rather a succession 
of short visits than one continuous stay. 
Every alternate week she returned to En- 
field, remaining there from Friday till Mon- 
day — sometimes for a longer period ; besides 
this, she and Miss Chelston went to stop a 
little time with their old friends at Kew ; 
and when Mrs. Jubbins took up her abode 
at Chislehurst she often had both girls stay- 
ing there. 

The widow was in a state of the highest 
excitement concerning a great party she 
meant to give. The Jones had celebrated 
the change to their new house with a ball ; 
the Browns had got up a picnic really on 
a scale of unprecedented magnificence; 



HIGH FESTIVAL. 305 

whilst it was known the Eobinsons intended 
to ask all the world and his wife to a tre- 
mendous entertainment, when their new 
" mansion " at Walton was ready for occu- 
pation. 

" So I really must do something," declared 
Mrs. Jubbins to Mr. Gayre ; "it would be 
a sin and a shame to have such a house 
as this and not ask one's friends to it." 

"Better give a garden-party," suggested 
the banker ; " and then the young people 
can have a dance in the evening." 

So said, so done ; the invitations were 
written and posted. Every one Mrs. Jub- 
bins had ever known was asked, and a 
great number she never had known. 

Sir Geoffrey begged her to give him 
some blank cards, and promised to secure 
the presence "of a few young fellows well 
connected, and so forth." 

The Jones, Browns, and Eobinsons, and 

many other rich families — all of the same 
Vol. i. 21 



3o6 SUSAN DRUMMOND. 

walk in life — had each two or three in- 
timate friends who wanted, of all things, to 
make dear Mrs. Jubbins' acquaintance. 

Mrs. Jubbins even asked Canon and 
Mrs. Gayre and the Misses Gayre, and re- 
ceived by return of post an emphatic re- 
fusal. The widow was unwise enough to 
mention that she expected Sir Geoffrey 
Chelston and his beautiful daughter to be 
of the company. 

" What a set your brother has got 
amongst!" said Mrs. Gayre to her husband. 
"I should not be at all surprised to hear 
any day he had married that Jubbins woman." 
"Neither should I," groaned the Canon. 
"There is one comfort, however, she is 
enormously rich'' 

" O, I don't believe in those City fortunes," 
retorted Mrs. Gayre : " look at your father !" 
" My dear !" exclaimed the clergyman, less 
in a tone of endearment than of mild re- 
monstrance. 



HIGH FESTIVAL. 307 

The garden-party, to which Mrs. Jubbins 
had bidden a crowd of people, and with which 
she intended to inaugurate a new epoch, 
wherein "she should enjoy her money, and 
have some good of her life," promised indeed 
to be a unique affair. Where expense is no 
object it is comparatively easy to compass 
success ; and on this occasion, if never on 
another, the widow announced her intention 
of not troubling her head about sixpences 
— a resolution which met with unqualified 
approval from Sir Geoffrey. 

" In for a penny, in for a pound," he said, 
in his off-hand, agreeable way ; and then he 
asked Mrs. Jubbins how she " stood " for 
wine, and offered to take all trouble con- 
cerning her cellar off her hands, by having 
anything she wanted sent down by his own 
wine-merchant, "who supplies an excellent 
article," finished the Baronet, " and is a 
deuced nice sort of fellow." 

"Affable," however, though the Baronet 



21—2 



3o8 S USAJ^ BR UMMOND. 

might be, friendly as well, and indeed on 
occasions homely in his discourse, Mrs. Jub- 
bins was not to be enticed into taking her 
custom away from the houses that had won 
the favour of Mr. Jubbins deceased, and 
Mr. Jubbins' father before him. She would 
as soon have changed her church ; sooner 
indeed, because in her heart of hearts she 
inclined to a moderate ritual, while the Jub- 
bins had always pinned their simple faith 
to black gowns, bad music, high pews, and 
the plainest of plain services. 

At every turn Sir Geoffrey's proffered sug- 
gestions met with a thankful but decided 
rejection. 

For the commissariat department, con- 
cerning which the lady's ideas were of the 
most liberal description, Mrs. Jubbins felt 
that she and her butler and her cook, and 
the City purveyors, would prove equal to 
the occasion. 

" I am not afraid of being unable to feed 



HIGH FESTIVAL. 309 

my friends," she said to Sir Geofirey ; " only, 
how am I to amuse them?" 

"Let them amuse themselves," answered 
Sir Geoffrey. " Gad, if they can't do that 
they had better stop away." 

He had laid out his own scheme of en- 
tertainment, and also given a private hint 
to Miss Chelston it would be wise for her 
to make " some running with that Sudlow 
fellow." "Kemember the crooked stick, my 
girl," he advised, " and while we are in 
comparatively smooth water try to get a 
bit ahead. You mind what I say to you. 
If you don't, the time won't be long coming 
you'll repent having neglected my advice." 

Plants by the van-load, muslin by 'the 
acre, relays of musicians, luncheon and sup- 
per from a firm of confectioners well known 
to City folks, waiters whose dignity would 
not have disgraced a Mansion House dinner : 
The Warren looking charming in its setting 
of green trees, guests alighting as fast as 



3 lo aS USAIi DE UMMOND. 

the carriages could set down, a hum of 
voices, dresses of every possible fashion and 
colour, ladies young and old, winsome and 
passee, girls and matrons, gentlemen in 
every variety of male costume, people who 
had respected Mr. Jubbins, and people who 
respected Mr. Higgs' daughter ; the com- 
bined odours of all the flowers on earth, 
as it seemed, mingling with the sound of 
rattling china and jingling glass ; every- 
where a Babel of tongues : guests saunter- 
ing solitary over the gardens, wondering 
how they were to get through the next 
few hours ; groups chattering on the lawns ; 
sunshine streaming on the grass through a 
tracery of leaves and branches ; rabbits 
scudding away into the plantations ; win- 
dows open to the ground ; light curtains 
swaying gently in the summer air ; white 
pigeons with pink feet and wondering eyes 
looking down on the company from the 
roof; milhonaires exchanging words of 



HIGH FESTIVAL. 311 

wisdom about " stocks," and " Turks," and 
" Brazils," on the terrace which once " his 
lordship " had no doubt often paced ; Mrs. 
Jubbins nervous, triumphant, handsome ; her 
'children in a seventh heaven of delight ; Sir 
Geoffrey Chelston in a perfectly new white 
hat and pale-blue necktie, talking to every- 
body his discerning glance told him might 
be made worth the trouble ; Margaret radi- 
antly beautiful, in a dress which suited her 
hopes and expectations ; Susan more simply 
attired in accordance with her certainties ; 
Mr. Arbery escorting a young lady whose 
ultimate destination was Australia ; Mr. Lai 
Hilderton looking handsome, forlorn, and dis- 
contented ; a sprinkling of clergymen ; a few. 
unmistakable West Enders ; this was what 
Mr. Gayre saw when he walked up from 
Chislehurst Station to The Warren on that 
glorious afternoon in August. 

The number of persons who declared it 
was " a perfect day " could only have been 



312 >S US AS BE UMMOND, 

equalled by those who talked about Lord 
Flint and the Earl of Merioneth and the 
widowed dowager. Though all dead or 
absent, the " noble family " seemed to per- 
vade the whole place. 

The rooms were inspected, their appoint- 
ments criticised, the style of architecture 
examined in detail. Opinions differed as to 
the convenience of the residence as a family 
mansion ; but every one agTeed it was just 
the place for a party. Such a number of 
rooms, and all on the ground-floor ! 

"It is like wandering through the courts 
in the Crystal Palace," said one young lady. 

" As fine a bUliard-room as I'd ever wish 
to see I " exclaimed Sir Geoffrey. 

" Never could have believed any man out 
of Bedlam would build such a place; it is 
offering a premium to burglars," grumbled 
an old alderman. 

"Dear me, I should not care to sit in 
these great drawing-rooms by myself ! " cried 



HIGH FESTIVAL. 313 

a portly dowager, who, next rainute, confided 
to all whora it might concern, " I am such a 
poor timid creature, though — a mere bundle 
of nerves." 

"Just fancy lying awake at night and 
listening to the wind howling through the 
trees I I would as soon hve in the middle 
of an American forest," ventured a lackadai- 
sical miss to her neighbour, with a shudder. 

" I like it," answered the neighbour, who 
happened to be Susan Drummond. 

" You don't mean to say you live here ? " 
in a tone of mingled awe and horror. 

"No, but I stay here sometimes." 

" And where do you sleep ? Surely not 
in one of those dreadful rooms with only a 
pane of glass between you and robbers ! " 

" I am not afraid. For twenty years I 
resided in a much more lonely house than 
this." 

" Eeally ! I wonder how any one can do 
it ; I could not ! I should die ! " 



314 -S USAN LB UMMOND. 

" Come into the garden, do," entreated a 
voice at Susan's elbow ; and, turning, she 
saw Lionel Hilderton. 

Crossing the spacious hall, they walked to- 
gether to the gardens, which were curiously- 
planned on sloping terraces, rustic steps, 
formed of logs laid lengthwise, leading from 
level to level. 

" What a rambling sort of place this is ! " 
remarked the young man irritably, as he 
regarded the evidences of wealth which met 
his eye at every turn; "and these huge 
gatherings are a complete mistake. I don't 
know a soul here." 

" You know m^," said Susan, mildly. 

" Yes, you of course ; but then everybody 
wants you ; and what a set of people they 
are ! '' 

" Some of them seem very nice, I think," 
dissented his companion. 

" 0, you find good in every one ; but they 
are a lot of dreadful snobs, you may depend. 



HIGH FESTIVAL. 315 

Of course I liave not a word to say against 
your friend Mrs. Jubbins, though she has 
about as much appreciation of art as that 
cow ;" and Mr. Hilderton pointed down to 
the plantations, where a milky mother was 
seeking food under difficulties calculated to 
try her patience. " She — Mrs. Jubbins I 
mean, not the cow — asked me the other day 
what I would charge to paint her a picture 
exactly a yard long. I found out she wanted 
it to put in a frame she had by her not 
worth twopence. Of course I said I could 
not paint to measure. If these sort of 
people do not know better they ought to 
be taught." 

" I think I should have taken the order," 
said Susan. 

" I would not, then. If I have no respect 
for myself I have for my art. To please you 
I consented to paint her prosaic self and 
hideous children, but I feel I can't stand 
any more of that sort of thing." 



3 1 6 S US AN BE UMMOND. 

" You know I did all for the best." 
" Of course I understand that ; and I am 
most grateful to you ; but you cannot think 
how trying it is. You remember- that picture 
of ' Esther ' for which your friend, Mr. Gayre 
said he would try to find a purchaser ? Well, 
he sent a dealer — actually a dealer, a man 
with dirty hands and diamond ring, and 
heavy gold chain and thick nose, a Jew of 
the worst type — who had the impudence to 
criticise my work. He was good enough to 
say ' Esther ' herself was not so bad, and 
he was willing to buy that painting, though 
the perspective was defective and the minor 
figures unfinished. I told him he must take 
'Mordecai' as well — that I could not part 
the pair. He declared he would rather be 
without ' Mordecai ' if I gave him the picture ; 
but at last, finding me firm, offered eighteen 
shillings extra!" 

"Poor Lai! What did you do?" 

" Do ! I ordered him to leave the studio, 



HIGH FESTIVAL. 317 

and next day had a note, saying I could 
send a line ' to his place ' if I thought better 
of the matter." 

" So you failed to sell ' Esther ' after all?" 

" I was forced to take his terms. I had 
not a sovereign left." 

They went a httle further without speak- 
ing a word ; then Mr. Hilderton took up his 
parable again. 

"And to see all these people absolutely 
wallowing in wealth! It is utterly heart- 
breaking! Don't you think so, Susan? — 
now, honestly, don't you ? " 

" Well, no," she answered. " If they can 
derive happiness from money and you from 
art, surely it is better they should have 
their money and you your art." 

" But I can't be happy without money. 
I want ever so much. I'd like to be as 
rich as Rothschild, if I could." 

"In that case would it not be wise to 
accept as many commissions as you can 



3 18 8 US AN DB UMMOND. 

get, even if the people who give them are 
not particularly interesting? Were I you 
I should try to paint Mrs. Jubbins and her 
children as well as possible, and then she 
might get you more orders. To be quite plain, 
Lai, as you are in such want of bread-and- 
butter, you ought not to quarrel with it." 

What answer the artist might have made 
to this extremely wise speech will never 
now be known, for at that moment their 
iete-d-tete was interrupted. 

" 0, here are the truants ! " exclaimed 
Miss Chelston, gaily : she and Mr. Sudlow 
coming from an opposite direction, met 
Susan and Mr. Hilderton somewhat unex- 
pectedly. "We could not think where you 
had gone ; Mrs. Jubbins has been sending 
in all directions after you. Aren't you 
tired of walking about? You missed some 
exquisite singing ; dancing will commence 
presently — ^you had better come in and get 
cool." 



HIGH FESTIVAL. 319 

" I am not at all too warm," answered 
Miss Drummond ; " but I won't miss the 
dancing as well as the singing." 

" And remember I am to have the first 
waltz," said Mr. Hilderton. 

"You shall have it, though you did not 
ask me before," she laughed. 

And then they all bent their steps in 
the direction of the house, Mr. Hilderton 
drawing his companion a little back in 
order to ask, 

" Who on earth is that man, Sudlow ? " 

"Haven't an idea," replied Miss Drum- 
mond, in the same low tone ; " some one 
Mr. Gayre knows." 

" He is rich, too, I suppose ? " 

"I fancy so, but I don't know." 

"He has eyes for nobody but your friend 
Miss Chelston." 

" Your friend, too, or at least she used 
to be." 

"Ah, she is like every one else in this 



320 SUSAN DRUMMOND. 

vile place. She cares for nothing but 
money." 

"I am sure you wrong her," said Susan. 

"It does not much matter whether I do 
or not. I am only a struggling artist. You 
see she scarcely speaks to me." 

" It is her quiet manner ; she does not 
mean to be unkind." 

As they stood near one of the windows 
watching the quartette slowly ascending from 
terrace to terrace, Mrs. Jubbins was saying 
at that very moment to Mr. Gayre, "Judge 
for yourseK'; I feel positive my idea is correct." 

" I should not have thought it ; but 
ladies no doubt understand all these matters 
better than we do," answered the banker, 
courteously. 

"And it seems such a pity, for she is so 
good and charming, and he is so poor and 
so impracticable." 

" We must try if we can't do something 
for him." 



HIGH FESTIVAL. 321 

"Yes, you are always thinking how you 
can serve others." This was quite a stock 
phrase of Mrs. Jubbins, and one which Mr. 
Gayre had long ceased to deprecate. "But 
I really can't see how he is to be helped ; " 
and then the widow went on to relate the 
" painting by measure " episode, and also 
another painful experience she had under- 
gone in her efforts to "bring the young 
man forward." 

" Dear old Deputy Pettell came down to 
call on me the other day, and you know 
what a judge he is of pictures; he has bought 
thousands of pounds' worth one time and 
another. Well, I had got Mr. Hilderton to 
take my darling Ida as a shepherdess with 
a crook and sheep — such a pretty idea — 
and there was the portrait m the smaller 
drawing-room, and Mrs. Eobinson and her 
nephew Captain Flurry and Mr. Hilderton 
in the other. Of course the painting in- 
stantly arrested Mr. Deputy. ' What have 

Vol. i. 22 



322 S USAN DR UMMONB. 

we here ? ' he asked ; and he put on his 
spectacles, and I was just going to remark 
I hoped to introduce the artist, who fortu- 
nately was at The Warren, when he said, 
' My dear Mrs. Jubbins, where did you 
get this awful daub from ? It is one of 
your girls, isn't it? I suppose that long 
stick she is balancing over her shoulder is 
meant for a crook ; but those things can't 
be sheep — they have not even the remotest 
resemblance to that animal.' " 

" What happened then ? " asked Mr. 
Gayre, as the widow paused in her im- 
petuous narrative. 

" From the next room," answered Mrs. 
Jubbins, " there came this, quite loud and 
distinct : ' The man only knows a sheep hy 
its head and trotters I ' I declare, Mr. Gayre, 
I thought I should have dropped ; and I 
felt so angry with Mrs. Eobinson for laugh- 
ing outright — you are aware the Eobinsons 
never liked the Pettells. But don't men- 



HIGH FESTIVAL. 323 

tion the matter before Miss Drummond," 
added Mrs. Jubbins, hurriedly, as that young 
lady, leaving her friends, turned to enter 
by the window. " I wouldn't have her 
vexed for the world ! " 

Time — relentless time — flew by. The 
afternoon had gone, the evening was going, 
the time for the last train coming. Every- 
where, as it seemed, there was dancing — 
in the dining-room, the larger drawing-room, 
the library, so miscalled from the fact of a 
few volumes of forgotten magazines being 
there imprisoned within glass cases, locked 
and bolted as though each book were valu- 
able as some old Elzevir. 

The musicians were placed in the wide 
corridor which divided the private part of 
the house into two portions ; and in the 
various rooms set apart for their use light 
feet twinkled in the mazes of the dance, 
and light hearts grew lighter and bright 
eyes brighter as the old, old story, which 



22-2 



324 S US AN DR UMMOND. 

will never stale till the heavens are rolled 
up as a scroll, was told in words or imphed 
in glances more eloquent than any form of 
mortal speech. 

"There never was such a party." At 
last everyone seemed agreed on that point 
— the many who approved of the afiair, and 
the few who did not. As a "social gather- 
ing " it proved a supreme success. No 
stand-aloofism ; no proud looks and uplifted 
noses ; no " How the deuce did you come 
here, sir ? " sort of expression. The City 
did not seem antagonistic to the West, or 
the West supercilious to the City ; while 
the latest fashion in suburbs did not disdain 
to ask a few kindly questions concerning 
" dear old Bloomsbury." 

There a High Church clergyman was ex- 
changing confidences with a wealthy Dis- 
senter, who had given Heaven only knows 
how much to the destitute and heathen. 
Young Graceless was dancing -with Miss 



HIGH FESTIVAL. 325 

Eeubens, who was reported to have a 
fortune of a hundred and fifty thousand. 
Beamish, the author of Fashion and Fancy ^ 
brought to Chislehurst by Mr. Hilderton, 
was showing some tricks in the card-room, 
to the great mental disturbance of a few 
old stagers, who looked upon levity in the 
midst of a game of whist as a sort of act 
of bankruptcy ; while Sir Geoffrey Chelston 
having button-holed Mr. Jabez Fallis, the 
great match manufacturer, who was then 
running a tremendous opposition to Bryant 
& May, had just concluded a deal with 
him for a pair of carriage-horses, subject 
to inspection and a vet.'s approval. 

" The price may seem stiff," remarked 
the Baronet (at the same time confidentially 
recommending Mr. Fallis to try some spark- 
ling hock ; " the very best I ever tasted ; 
and I thought I knew every vintage worth 
talking about " ) ; " but there is not such 
another pair or match in London — three 



326 SrSAy DBUMMONB. 

parts thoroughbred ; action perfect, temper 
ditto ; except that the mare has a star on 
her forehead and the horse hasn't, might be 
twin brother and sister. Now I tell you," 
and the Baronet dropped his voice confi- 
dentially, "how they come to be in the 
market. Bless you, I know all the ins 
and outs of these things ; " and as he 
made this perfectly true assertion. Sir 
Geoffrey poured his new friend out a 
fresh beaker of ILrs. Jubbins' wonderful 
hock. " Graceless — that young fellow coming 
along now to get an ice for the pretty ghi 
he has been waltzing with — who is she, did 
you say? — had, owing to a little misadven- 
ture — young fellows will be young fellows, 
but you can't make old dowagers understand 
that — got into the black books of his gTeat 
aunt the Dowager Countess of Properton. 
Well, he knew her ladyship's one weakness 
was horseflesh ; so as a sort of propitiatory 
offering, he got over from Ireland two of 



HIGH FESTIVAL. 327 

the sweetest things ever put into harness. 
They were just a bit wild at first, as all 
Irish horses are ; they need coaxing and 
humouring, like the Irish women, and then 
they'll go through fire and water and to 
death for you, if need be. He and I 
trained them : took them here and there, 
first wide of London, then nearer and 
nearer, and into the Park, till they were at 
last well-nigh perfect ; then what d'ye think 
happened P " 

" I can't imagine ; perhaps one on 'em 
fell lame," said the match-maker, lapsing 
into a once-accustomed vernacular. 

" Lord, no," said Sir Geofirey ; " but the 
Dowager died. When Graceless went down 
to the funeral, he found his name not in 
the will. That was last week. There are 
the horses eating their heads off; and to 
come to what I said, ]Mr. Falhs, if they 
don't do their twelve miles, half country and 
half over the stones, in less than forty 



328 SUSAN DBUMMOND. 

minutes, why, I'll eat them, and that's all 
about it." 

The hall was set about with great banks 
of flowers. Sitting, half hidden by ferns, 
palms, begonias, and a hundred sweet- 
scented flowers, that certainly were that 
night not on deserts wasting their perfumes, 
Mr. Gayre at length espied Miss Drummond, 
whom he had for some time past been seek- 
ing. She was nestling behind a great ole- 
ander, with a scarlet shawl wrapped around 
her shoulders, her hands idly crossed in her 
lap, and her head resting against the wall. 
Her whole attitude was one of listless weari- 
ness ; and it seemed so strange to see Susan 
Drummond, of all people in the world, sitting 
apart idle and silent, that Mr. Gayre was 
about to approach and ask if she felt ill, 
when Mr. Hilderton, hastily brushing past, 
exclaimed, 

" Come, Susan, this is our dance." 

" I think not," she said ; " but, in any 



HIGH FESTIVAL. 329 

case, I mean to dance no more to- 
night." 

" The translation of which is, you don't 
mean to dance with me." 

" I intended you to understand my words 

literally." 

♦/ 

" K I were Mr. Sudlow your answer 
might be different." 

" As you are not Mr. Sudlow, and as he 
will certainly not ask me, there is no use 
speculating about my possible answer." 

" K you will not dance, then, come and 
have an ice." 

" No, thank you. Like a dear good Lai, 
do leave me in peace. I want to be quiet 
for a few minutes. I really am very tired." 

"The next time I ask you to do any- 
thing for me — " began the young man. 

"I'll do it if I can possibly ; but not to- 
night." 

"That is all very fine. I am going, 
Susan." 



330 S US AN DE UMMOND. 

" It delights me to hear it." 

" Perhaps some day you will feel sorry 
for this." 

" I do not imagine I shall ; but you had 
better leave me now to try to get up 
strength to bear the regret you prophesy is 
in store." 

"Susan, I never thought I should almost 
hate you." 

" Neither do you hate me seriously, 
Lai ; you will regret your words to- 
morrow." 

" Is Miss Drummond not well ? " asked 
Mr. Gay re at this juncture, calmly and 
innocently, as though he had just come 
on the scene. 

" I am only tired, Mr. Gayre," Susan 
answered for herself; while, without deign- 
ing an answer of any sort, Mr. Hilderton, 
an ugly scowl disfiguring his handsome face, 
turned away abruptly, and strode out of 
the hall. 



HIGH FESTIVAL. 331 

" I fear greatly you are ill," persisted 
the banker anxiously. 

"No, indeed ; but I do feel very very 
tired. I have been standing, talking, 
or dancing all day, and am beginning to 
think with Mr. Hilderton, these continuous 
parties are mistakes. One has too much 
for one's money," she added, with a laugh. 

•^You are about the only person here 
who thinks so, I imagine," said Mr. Gayre. 
" Let me get you a little wine. Sir Geoffrey 
has been chanting the praises of some 
hock, as though he had a cellar-full to 
dispose of. Will you try its virtues? " 

" Not even on Sir Geoffrey's recommen- 
dation," she answered. " I think I will try 
instead the efficacy of night air. Anything 
to be quiet for a short time ; anywhere to 
get away from the sound of those eternal 
waltzes and mad galops." 

" May I — will you allow me to accom- 
pany you ? " and the banker's courteous 



332 S US AX DE UMMOND. 

manner formed a marked contrast to the 
rude familiarity which had characterised 
Mr. Hilderton's speech. 

" I should be very glad ; but I do not like 
taking you away from your friends." 

" I have not many friends here," he 
answered ; " and if I had — " But he stopped 
in time, and drawing her hand within his arm 
in the paternal manner he affected, led her 
out on to the drive. 

" The terrace is crowded," he explained ; 
" which way shall we go ? " 

" Down towards the Hollow, please," said 
Susan ; and accordingly, winding round the 
end of the house, they struck into a nar- 
row tortuous path which led to the plantations. 

" How pretty it is ! " remarked Susan, look- 
ing up at the lighted windows, from which 
the music floated out into the peaceful night, 
and sank tenderly down into the heart, 
softened as music and bells always should 
be by distance. 



HIGH FESTIVAL. 333 

" Yes, not a bad sort of ' Love in a 
cottage ' place." 

" Too large for that," she answered. 

" What a bad character to give Love ! 
Do you think he could not fill all those 
great rooms ? " 

" He might ; but still The Warren does 
not fulfil one's ideal — at least my ideal — 
of Love in a cottage : three small sittino^- 
rooms, if Love were inclined to be extra- 
vagant, a tiny tile-paved kitchen with 
latticed casement, a thatched roof, m the 
eaves of which martins and swallows make 
their nests — it is said martins will never 
build where man and wife disagree — a 
trellis-work porch covered all over with 
honeysuckle and jasmine — roses, crimson, 
white and pink, peeping in at the windows. 
No, The Warren is too stately a cottage 
for ordinary lovers. The very place, of 
course, for folk of high degTee, but not 
£or common mortals. Do vou know, I 



334 SUSAN BBUMMOIs'D. 

liave often wondered how a lord makes 
love." 

" Very much like anybody else, I should 
think," answered Mr. Gayre. 

But Susan shook her head in dissent. 

" I should say not, though of course I 
am no judge ; for I never knew but one 
lord, and he was a dreadful old man. 
People said he beat his wife, and certainly 
she looked miserable ; and I knew— for I 
saw it — that he kept a book in which 
every household item was entered. You 
would hardly believe that the diary ran 
something in this fashion : 

" ' At luncheon to-day : Mr. Gayre, Mrs. 
Jubbins, Sir Geoffrey Chelston, Miss Chel- 
ston. Miss Drummond. Game-pie, cutlets, 
blancmange, stewed fruit : nothing sent 
down.' " 

" You cannot mean that ! " exclaimed Mr. 
Gayre in amazement. 

"Indeed I do. The book had been 



HIGH FESTIVAL. 335 

handed to the housekeeper to convict her 
of some sin regarding three sponge-cakes, 
I think, and she showed it to me. I 
looked at a page or two, and saw my own 
name with this comment : ' Miss Drummond 
was helped twice to cold heef! ! and I 
remember also : ' Mem. — Never to ask 
young Hilderton again ; he drank three 
glasses of old madeira.'' And poor Lai 
really did not know what he was drinking." 

"By the bye, I wanted to speak to you 
about Mr. Hilderton," began Mr. Gayre. 
"I could not avoid hearing what he said 
to you in the hall just now." 

" Yes ! " said Susan, surprised ; and she 
waited for the next words her companion 
should utter. 

END OF VOL. I. 



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